Sailors Adrift: The Lingering Tragedy of Agent Orange

Sailors suffer illness, disability as VA denies Agent Orange benefits to an entire class of Vietnam veterans

By Ken Olsen

(Copyright 2010 / All Rights Reserved)

Robert Ross heard the low-flying plane heading his direction as he stood on the signal bridge of USS Vega on a late-summer day in 1966. Bathed in Southeast Asian sunshine, he was listening to Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons when he looked up just in time to get a face full of spray.

“The officer on deck was panicking,” Ross recalls. “They hollered, ‘Everybody inside! Agent Orange!’ But it was too late.”

Forty-three years later, time is running out for Ross and tens of thousands of other sailors suffering from various cancers, Parkinson’s disease, diabetes and heart conditions caused by Agent Orange exposure during the Vietnam War. For nearly a decade, VA, acting on a Bush administration directive and a punitive court decision, has severed their benefits or denied their claims. Under these new VA rules, so-called “Blue Water” and “Blue Sky” veterans are deemed not to have suffered any ill effects from the millions of gallons of toxic defoliant spread across the jungles during the war, regardless of any contact they may have had with it. The government’s rationale: they did not set foot on land or couldn’t meet VA’s stringent requirements for proof that they were exposed.

“VA acts as if there is an invisible shield at the shoreline,” says David Greenberg, a Navy veteran. “In reality, Agent Orange blew out over the ocean. It also fell into the rivers and streams that fed out into the ocean. (And) because Navy ships distilled Agent Orange-tainted seawater for cooking, drinking and showering, it’s incomprehensible for VA to deny we were exposed.”

Denise Ross, whose husband is fighting for benefits, calls VA’s treatment of Agent Orange veterans disgraceful. “They have lost everything. They have no way to support themselves. They are dying at an incredible rate. And VA treats them as if they are lying.”

Their last hope: legislation backed by The American Legion and other veterans groups that would restore the Agent Orange benefits Congress first authorized in 1991 for everyone who served in the Vietnam War – on land, in the air or at sea.

Operation Ranch Hand

The U.S. military sprayed 20 million gallons of the deadly dioxin-based herbicide in Vietnam and Laos to strip the dense jungle that gave the enemy cover, to destroy their crops, and to clear ground for U.S. fire bases.Operation Ranch Hand ran from the early 1960s to the early 1970s.

VA still required proof of exposure, beginning in the 1970s when veterans first raised concerns about their own strange illnesses and birth defects among their children, says Bart Stichman, joint executive director of the National Veterans Legal Services Program, which has represented Agent Orange victims since the 1970s.

VA conceded that chloracne, skin lesions caused by chemical exposure, was connected to Agent Orange exposure in 1978. And in 1984, Congress ordered VA to assemble a committee of scientists to study whether the list of illnesses presumed to be caused by Agent Orange should be expanded.

A responded by handpicking scientists, some of whom had worked for chemical companies that manufactured Agent Orange, Stichman says. In essence, “they denied everybody,” Stichman says.

By then, there were 800 studies on dioxin, the key toxin in Agent Orange. VA’s committee “reviewed a couple dozen studies” in 10 months, Stichman says. His group sued, and a federal court in California ordered VA to start over.

Meanwhile, Dow, Monsanto and other Agent Orange manufacturers settled a class-action lawsuit with veterans. The $180 million settlement didn’t go far but was important in making the case for health problems the herbicide inflicted.

Congressional Reprieve

By 1990, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention concluded that the 3 million veterans who served in Vietnam suffered a 50-percent-higher rate of non‑Hodgkin’s lymphoma than veterans who didn’t serve in Southeast Asia. VA then added that lone cancer to a short list of Agent Orange illnesses it would cover.

Realizing VA would never go far enough, Congress passed the Agent Orange Act of 1991. The legislation made it clear that anyone who served in the war – whether on land or in Vietnam’s territorial waters – was presumed to have been exposed and should receive VA benefits for illnesses caused by it. It also called for the National Academy of Sciences to determine which diseases were connected to Agent Orange. Over the next decade, soft-tissue sarcoma, lung, trachea and larynx cancer, multiple myleoma, Type 2 diabetes and other diseases were added to the list of Agent Orange conditions VA would cover.

Meanwhile, the Royal Australian Navy discovered that running dioxin-tainted seawater through its ships’ distilling machines – identical to equipment the U.S. Navy used to supply cooking, drinking and bathing water to ships in Vietnam – magnified the dioxin’s strength, Stichman says. A study by the Institute of Medicine, an arm of the National Academies of Science, later confirmed that.

The fortunes of Blue Water veterans changed after George W. Bush became president. In 2002, VA quietly rewrote its rules to require that all veterans prove they had physically set foot in Vietnam – known as “boots on ground” – to qualify for Agent Orange benefits.

“They didn’t go through formal rule-making,” Stichman says. VA started denying new claims and cutting off Blue Water veterans who previously had been receiving benefits. This occurred even though a greater percentage of Vietnam War sailors developed non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma than those who served with ground forces.

“So a guy who gets benefits from 1996 to 2002 for trachea cancer found his benefits severed,” Stichman explains. The sole exception was veterans with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

Haas’ Legal Voyage

Jonathan L. Haas thought he had legal grounds to challenge VA’s sudden exclusion of some 500,000 Vietnam War sailors who became known as the Blue Water veterans. He remembered clouds of Agent Orange drifting from the shore and engulfing his ammunition tender, the Mount Katmai. Forty years later, he filed an Agent Orange claim for diabetes and kidney problems.

Haas fought all the way to the Supreme Court, with the help of the National Veterans Legal Services Program and a friend-of-the-court brief from The American Legion. He lost. And when the high court refused to hear Haas v. Nicholson in early 2009, it effectively affirmed VA’s right to rewrite the rules and prevent Blue Water veterans from receiving Agent Orange benefits.

The Bush administration also pushed for legislation prohibiting Blue Water veterans from qualifying for presumptive Agent Orange exposure. The effort failed. But the Haas decision prevented tens of thousands of sick and disabled Blue Water veterans from getting VA benefits, including Thomas J. Laliberte, a naval photographer who serviced aerial reconnaissance cameras on the A‑5 Vigilantes that flew from USS Constellation in the Gulf of Tonkin.

The airplanes flew in areas recently sprayed with Agent Orange and periodically landed in Vietnam, accumulating dioxin residue, Laliberte says. He routinely worked on the airplane cameras and camera pods after these missions.

A computer programmer, truck driver and pressman since leaving the service, Laliberte says he was never sick until he was overcome with fatigue in August 2006. He couldn’t keep up at work and was laid off from his printing-plant job. Two weeks later, Laliberte was hospitalized with multiple myeloma. His kidney failure was so profound that he was “within days of dying,” Laliberte says.

His wife divorced him five months later. Laliberte was left only with Social Security disability benefits and temporarily moved in with a friend. VA has denied his Agent Orange-exposure claim, and he’s still living in his friend’s spare room.

“I feel abandoned,” Laliberte says, his voice hoarse from the steroids he takes to calm the side effects of chemotherapy. “I know I was there. I know I was exposed. And I feel that way not only for myself, but for the thousands of veterans who need help but can’t get the health care they need.”

Three years ago, Laliberte joined the newly formed Veterans Association of Sailors of the Vietnam War and now serves as its president. Together with The American Legion and other veteran groups, the VASVW is pushing legislation to restore veterans’ Agent Orange benefits.

Rep. Bob Filner, D-Calif., chairman of the House Veterans Affairs Committee, stressed urgency before hearings he called in May. “Congress’ original intent was to provide these veterans with benefits based on their exposure to Agent Orange and other deadly herbicides … regardless of arbitrary geographic line-drawing,” he wrote in a letter to his colleagues.

VA declined to address specific issues raised by veterans in this article. But in a statement prepared for The American Legion Magazine, VA noted it has proposed adding hairy cell leukemia, Parkinson’s disease and ischemic heart disease to the list of illnesses presumed to be connected to Agent Orange exposure, and “is committed to pursuing all medical research efforts that improve our understanding of diseases that could be presumptively service-connected.”

Ross’ Dying Wish. Nevada veteran Robert Ross wonders if he’ll outlive the VA appeals process. He developed blistering sores on his back in the 1970s and diabetes in 1995. He suffered heart failure in 2001, but is not a transplant candidate because of kidney problems. He had thyroid cancer, suffers from neuropathy, and fights an indigestion problem. Two years ago, doctors likened his life expectancy to that of a terminal-cancer patient.

Ross filed a claim with the Reno, Nev., VA in 2008. He was denied as a result of the Haas ruling. He cannot prove he took the face full of spray that late-summer day in 1966. He cannot prove he was close enough to the shore to see people’s faces. He cannot prove his ship was tied to a dock on several trips into Da Nang Harbor to re-supply U.S. ships.

“People are under the impression that these men have access to proof of where they were all of the time, of incidents that occurred while they were on ship, and every location of their ship,” Denise Ross says. “It was wartime. A lot of that information wasn’t put in the ship’s log or written down.”

Ross filed a notice of disagreement with the Reno VA in April 2009. “We provided them the doctor’s letter that said my husband has a year to live,” Denise says. “I begged them. I said, ‘My husband is dying.  Can’t you just deny his claim so we can file an appeal?’ We’re concerned about our son, who has asthma and other medical issues.”

That denial finally came this spring, a year after the Rosses’ urgent plea. They will appeal this summer. The case will drag on perhaps another year – a year Ross might not have.

The Rosses, like Laliberte, are putting their hope in the legislation.

“Every senator and member of Congress has the responsibility to step in immediately,” Denise says. “They can’t put a stop to the suffering. But they can restore the benefits that have been denied these men. I want it made right not just for my husband, but for everyone.”

This story appeared in the July issue of  The American Legion Magazine.

About Veterans' Voices

Veterans Voices is produced by Ken Olsen, a freelance writer and author who frequently writes about military families and veterans issues for national magazines
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34 Responses to Sailors Adrift: The Lingering Tragedy of Agent Orange

  1. Gary Wayne Hill says:

    I to was on the uss constellation in 1968 to 1970. I worked in the boiler rooms and evaporator rooms. About 14 years ago i was diagnosed with diabetes 2.I am 63 years old now and i am now being put on insulin.I also have a throat problem called barrett’s esophigus. Non of these problems or diseases are in my family.I am still proud of serving in the military and love my country USA.Right is right and wrong is wrong. God bless the U.S.A.


    • Armstead Tucker says:

      Was is proven that you were exposed to Agent Orange because i was on the same ship from 1969 to 1970 and I am trying to find out if we were in the area that would expose us to Agent Orange.


  2. yvonne bence says:

    I would like to know why my son who has Spina Bifida is recognised and my husband is not. How can the Australian Government stand by and not fix this problem.
    They run a office in Canberra pay people good dollars .
    The whole thing stinks big time

    Yvonne Bence


  3. Dr. Dennis M. says:

    I am the only sailor from the USS Newport News (CA-148) to get 4 Agent Orange Disabilies, a Hepatitis C Disability, and a 100% VA Unemployabitity (chronic fatigue). I was issued a Colt 45 side-arm and sent to Danang without any orders — I was told to return to the ship when my mission was completed. I did not have to prove that I touched Vietnam soil because my frst claim was submitted before “boots on ground” went into effect. All of my claims for subsequent problems were hindered by the VA and took over 8 year to be apporved. I was able to complete my VA appeals without any help from any Service Organization — they all said that they could not help me.
    Dr. Dennis M. Agin LCDR USN-Ret


    • The January 2010 Compensation and Pension Bulletin Policy (211): Information on Vietnam Naval operations…infers…presumption of agent orange exposure to ships operating on rivers and deltas. The history of the USS Newport News includes operations in the Vinh Binh Province in the Mekong Delta. The June 2010 C&P Service Bulletin Policy (211) …ships list…specifically calls out the USS Newport News crew to have presumption of exposure to agent orange for operations of: Cua Viet River April 1969. The Compensation and Pension Bulletins clearly stated that THE DVA has no reasons to hold the claims of the crew members aboard the ships of the specified time frames. See the Nehmer Training Guide: Have your claim re-adjudicated !


  4. THE VA is sitting on The International Organization of Medicine > IOM REPORT minor Rev. 3 Jan. 2012 (yes, that’s minor Rev. 3 jan. 2012). Likewise, THE VA does not honor “THE PROOF IS IN THE PUDDING” …the blood sausage that agent orange made of my body. The VA does not honor Civilian Doctors or Hospital evidence/information. The International Organization of Medicine REPORT (minor Rev. 3 Jan. 2012) places the USS Newport News operations in the worst of situations, conditions, and atmosphere exposed to agent orange. I have the Vietnam Service Medal (with three bronze stars); the Vietnam Campaign Medal (at least 6 months contiguous Vietnam); and, THE COMBAT ACTION ACTION RIBBON. THE VA denied my claim of exposure to agent orange… March 10,2012… because: SERVICE TREATMENT RECORDS do not contain Complaints, Treatment, or Diagnosis.THE DECISION is “A false TRUTH” : IT can take 20 to 40 years for symptoms and/or illnesses to surface. THE VA does not conform to The 112th Congress… 2011-2012 Bills… H.R. 812 that includes …The Blue Water Navy …and more; S.1629 provides compensation and health care; H.R. 3612 amends Title 38: and, THE CONSTITUTIONAL AUTHORITY STATEMENT of December 8, 2011… sends a strong warning…read…to THE VA > CONGRESS has the Power…TO ENACT…this legislation pursuant to the following: Article I, Section 8, Clause 18 > The Congress shall have the Power * * * To make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers, and all other Powers vested by the Constitution in the Government of the United States, or in any Department or Officer thereof. Doctor “FOOT ON GROUND” and Doctor “BOOT ON GROUND” must be held accountable for all delays,denials,and willfull false truths… denying suffering Veterans… compensation and heath care. Doctor “FOOT ON GROUND” and Doctor “BOOT ON GROUND” musy be held accountable for medical malpractice and Practicing MEDICINE that does not conform to The Internanational Organization of Medicine And/or The 112th Congress 2011-2012 …AGENT ORANGE EQUITY ACT…enacted… by CONSTITUTIONAL AUTHORITY…not requiring President Obama’s signature.


  5. doug broz says:

    just called va in fargo n.d.says you cant test for residual diozin after 7 yrs. new jersey commision says you can,is there any help. doug broz s.d.


    • The anchorage area within Da Nang Harbor is within THE ESTUARY that consists of the Cu De and Han RIVERS; the estuary is within the geographical territory of Vietnam. All ships entering that area should be presumed to have been exposed to agent orange; a crew member aboard one ship was awarded presumption of exposure because the ship’s location ( photographed) in Da Nang Harbor was surrounded by 3 shorelines. Capt. Synder of the USS Newpport News described March 1968, the USS Newport News : “LANDLOCKED” . The Jan. 2010 Compensation & Pension Bulletin Policy (211) …ships list (not all inclusive) provides…presumption of exposure to agent orange… for crew members of ships that operated on RIVERS and DELTAS of Vietnam. The June 2010 Service Bulletin Policy 2010 lists ( let’s say) The USS Newport News for operations : Cu Viet River April 1969.However, the DVA January 2014 (yes, 20214) …ships lists… lists The USS Newport News for operations in the Vinh Binh Province in the Mekong Delta …ONLY. Read (be instructed) by the Nehmer Training Guide Feb. 2011 Revised ;and, Congressional Research Services Statutory Presumptions.


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  7. alvin e thomas says:

    I am a 1966 US Navy Vietnam Veteran who has suffered 4-5 Ischemic Strokes and 1 Ischemic Heart Attack. The Va has denied me since 1997. My case is before the Board now.


    • Mary Warner says:

      Were you on a ship? If so what ship. My husband Philip was on the USS Constellation from Feb. 1968 through Aug 1969 and he was in communications. He had 2 Ischemic Strokes and suffered from type 2 diabetes, nephropathy and all the other complications from the diabetes. He was receiving compensation for his service connected disabilities since 2001, 100% since 2007. In his claims he had stated there was a spill of agent orange in the ship. I’m still looking for buddy statements from veterans on the ship during the same time frame. Now the VA is saying he may have been erroneously presumed exposure. He didn’t talk much of his time in the service and now the VA wants me to prove his exposure by their new rules. Unethical don’t you think. Philip passed away Sept. 14 2011 from kidney failure which is the end results of nephropathy. The VA denied my request for Dependency and Indemnity Compensation. I’m in the process of sending in my “Notice of Disagreement”. I’m thankful for the compensation he did get, otherwise we would have been financially devastated because of all the doctor bills. What is your story? I believe all Blue Water Vets should be compensated if they have any of the know illnesses associated with agent orange. The Australian government recognizes all the hazards of the agent orange but our government has turn a blind eye to its deserving Vietnam Veterans. Any help is appreciated.


  8. Sandra Lopez says:

    Thank for your brave heart to pass this experience on to others, Sandra


  9. I was on the Newport news from 1968 thru 1972, We sat in Danang harbor for two months in 72. All our water came from the harbor. So far, I have had my left kidney removed, 15% of right kidney, and two feet of colon. Va. rejects claims because of no boots on ground. It sucks.


    • The USS Newport News is of the January 2010 Compensation and Pension Bulletin Policy (211) ships list: ” inferred” because of operations in the Vinh Binh Province in the Mekong Delta December 1968 9 also, see January 2014 ships list). The Newport News is specifically listed of the Compensation and Pension Service Bulletin Policy (211) for operations : Cua Viet River April 1969. Have your claim re-adjudicated to The Nehmer Training Guide February 2011 Revised. I ,too, was aboard the USS Newport News all of 1968 – July3, 1969. The Compensation and Pension Bulletins policy (211) January 2010 and The C&P Bulletin June 2010 …provides you presumption of exposure to agent orange (etc.) . Have your claim re-adjudicated. I found that to over-ride Buffalo Regional Offices’ constant denials, I wrote to ATTN. Nehmer Working Group (address Washington D.C. Department of Veterans Affairs / middle pages / of Nehmer training Guide. .,. to show that by THE DVA’ s own records, I served inland Vietnam on at least two occasions when only one occasion is required. Read The C&P Bulletins of January 2010 and June 2010. Let the VA know you know that they exist; lalso let the VA know that you know that the Nehmer Training Guide exists. Forget Da Nang Harbor. The Newport News operations December 1968 in the Mekong Delta provides you the inland presumption of exposed to agent orange. . The Newport News operations of the Cua Viet River April 1969 provides presumption of exposed to agent orange. Of The C&P Bulletin Jan. 2010, read the statement that the DVA has no reason to deny your claim as you were aboard ship during the indicated time frames. Sorry about being long winded.
      I hope this ionformation helps!


    • The January 2010 Compensation & Pension Bulletin Policy (211) Information on Vietnam Naval Operations infers: that, of it’s incomplete ships list , ships that operated on RIVERS and DELTAS (the same as the BROWN WATER NAVY) are …presumed exposure to agent orange. The June 2010 Compensation& Pension Service Bulletin Policy (211) definitely lists The USS Newport News for Operations of and in : Cua Viet RIVER April 1969. The history of the USS Newport News includes operations in the Vinh Binh Province in the Mekong DELTA December 1968. In July 2013, The USS Newport News is on the DVA ships list for December 1968 ONLY ! Check the ( so-called)up-dated January 2014 ships list : wrongfully does not list Cua Viet River April 1969; when the June 2010 (yes June 2010) C&P Service Bulletin clearly lists the USS Newport News for operations: Cua Viet River. The anchorage area within Da Nang Harbor is within AN Estuary that consists of the Cu De River and the Han River within the geographical territory of Vietnam. Whereas exposure was granted of a claim for being surrounded by 3 shore lines, in a FAMILYGRAM March 1968 to the crew, Capt. Synder indicated that the USS Newport News location in Da Nang harbor appeared “LANDLOCKED”. The hidden ESTUARY within Da Nang Harbor now revealed should provide … presumption of exposure … to those aboard all ships that entered “THE ESTUARY” ithin Da Nang Harbor within the geographical territorial limits of Vietnam. The January and June C&P Bulletins are substantive evidence. Nonetheless, have your claims re-adjudicated to The Nehmer Traning Guide Feb. 2011 Revised; and, take a good look at Congressional Research Services / Statutory Presumptives by law clerk Nichols Oct. 2010.


    • Danny Raburn says:

      Michael, I was with the Marine Detachment during the 72 deployment in Vietnam. I have prostate cancer and fighting with the VA in Tampa, Fla.. Was wondering if anyone on the 72 deployment has been granted AO compensation. Did you happen to get Deck Logs? I’m working on that now for my appeal.


  10. Mary Rouse says:

    my husband was stationed at Clark Air Force Base. He say burn pits, storage of toxins. Had planes flying over spraying agents. He has so many weird, rare sicknesses and diseases. He is only 60. So every one knows Clark is toxic… The Government needs to come clean. It is dishonor to the service men that are now so sick


    • It is said that the edges of the runways were sprayed frequently to keep the grass from starting to take over the runways. As a significant airport, logic would seem to dictate: agent orange, other toxic pesticides, chemicals, etc. were flown in and out of THE AIRPORT … for to transfer to other locations inside and outside of The Philippines. I remember drinking the cloudy / milky water from the spigot of a fish tank looking water coolers. Nonetheless, consider filing a claim under the Nehmer training Guide (February 2011 Revised) ; and, Congressional Research Services / Statutory Presumptives by law clerk Nichols Oct. 2010. If need be


      • Mary Rouse says:

        so mad at our local VA. Found out by asking my husband to get a copy of his diagnostic tests, that they diagnosed him with Ischemic heart disease in early 2013 and never told us. Also found out that an Ortho Doc said about the problems my husband has been having since 2008 with a hip they replaced, ” In the rite clinical situation this could be indicative of loosening” . That’s what the Ortho Doc said, They also said on papers that he never returned to a normal gait. I looked up the hip on the FDA web site and it was recalled in 2008. 2 months after they placed it in him. All this type of hip recalled. NO ONE TOLD US. My husband just had to drop paper work off for them to fax to the VA hospital that put the hip in. What do we do. My husband was not in Vietnam but the Philippines. When I read the Nehmer it said Vietnam or waters….. Can’t seem to find a lawyer to touch this mess. Some one suggested an Internal tort claim. I have searched for four days at the VA site for this Internal tort form. Found the form 95 but not internal . We are so tired and drained and My husband may be diagnosed with Parkinson’s. We won’t know till Sept.


      • Your answer may be in: Congressional Research Services / Statutory Presumptives by law clerk Nichols Oct. 2010. I hope this information helps. For some reason, I didn’t receive… your entire message.


      • My second try… brought up more of your message: Ischemic heart disease… is presumed to have been caused by agent orange. Medical records of such by both civilian and VA are read (instructed) to be accepted. My information from the internet indicates that agent orange was flown in and out of Clark Air Force Base. Also, perhaps, agent orange was shipped in and out of Subic Bay Naval base. And, Clark Air Force Base runways were frequently sprayed with agent orange to keep grass and other plants from over-growing the runways. Nonetheless, other pollutants, in the Philippines, were also found to include being in the drinking water. The combination of The Nehmer Training Guide and / (Congressional Research Services ) Statutory Presumptives (by law clerk Nichols Oct. 2010) … both apply to your husband claims. File a “Notice of Disagreement”. I suggest filing using the address in the Nehmer Traning Guide : Dept. of Veterans Affairs -ATTN. Nehmer Working Group- Washington D.C. Don’t forget to REFERENCE The Nehmer Training Guide and Statutory Presumptives by law clerk Nichols. Look up the complete address in the Nehmer Training Guide. Nonetheless, if you use a Veteran Service Officer or lawyer, find one that read (is instructed) by the “STATUTORY PRESUMPTIVES” of both documents.


      • Mary Rouse says:

        I will do those things today go to library then send in mail. Thanks so much for your service and help.


      • The Nehmer Training Guide February 2011 can be found on the internet. Likewise, Congressional Research Services / Statutory Presumptives (Oct. 2010 by law clerk Nichols) . Ischemic heart disease should be covered by The Nehmer Training Guide ( backed by Statutory Presumptives). Hip problems: I see that CRS Statutory Presumptives (Oct. 2010 by law clerk Nichols) is also a must read.


  11. All Vietnam Veterans should read THE NEHMER TRAINING GUIDE for The Department of Veterans Affairs.


  12. The anchorage area of Da Nang Harbor is within the “estuary” within Da Nang that consists of the Cu De And Han Rivers. (an estuary is a partly enclosed body of brackish water with one or more rivers or streams flowing into it, and with a free connection to the open sea.) Many “estuaries” are suffering degradation by many factors, including sedimentation from soil erosion from deforestation, overgrazing, and many other poor farming practices; overfishing; drainage and filling of wetlands; eutrophication due to excessive nutrients from sewage and animal wastes; pollutants including heavy metals, polychlorinated biphenyls, radionuclides and hydrocarbons from sewage inputs; and diking or damming for flood control or water diversion (including herbicides such as agent orange). Connect this information with The Da Nang Harbor Report and The Institute of Medicine Report 3 Jan. 2012 (Blue Water Navy), all ships that anchored in Da Nang harbor should be presumed to have operated exposed to agent orange.
    2. For those that served on the USS Newport News CA-148, The Compensation and Pension Bulletin Policy (211) indicates that The USS Newport News operations in December 1968, in the Vinh Binh Province in the Mekong Delta, qualifies the crew that was aboard… presumption of exposure to agent orange.
    3. For those that served aboard the USS Newport News CA-148 during April 1969, The Newport News is on C&P Bulletin June 2010 (Additional Information on Vietnam Naval Operations…Ships List ).
    4. July 2013, The USS Newport News was placed on the Ships List for Operations December 1968 in the Mekong Delta (only).
    5. Ships that operated in “estuaries” are indicated to qualify for presumption of exposure, of my understanding, under Policy (211) past practices. Nonetheless, Don’t forget to have your claim
    re-adjudicated to the “Nehmer” training guide as court ordered. Please take careful consideration of : Congressional Research Services Statutory Presumptions by law clerk Nichols.


    • Mary Rouse says:

      we have been fighting with the Buffalo Regional office for 8 years. My husband has at present 5 of the diseases on the list and 28 other chronic diseases. I am obtaining a lawyer Seith Director. Google it. The VA my husband gets medical care at diagnosed 2 years ago some pretty serious diseases and never told us and on top of that in 2008 he got his hip replaced 2 months after the date same year they recalled all the hips and never told us and my husband has been complaining for the past 6 years about pain in it. Write every one you can some one told me that congressmen Rick King in NY state is good to write to. Keep fighting your journey has just begun I’m afraid. I really feel that they hope these sick Vets will give up. Know my husband has to see a movement disorder nero doctor maybe Parkinson’s. My husband is 61 years old.


  13. 1, The USS Newport News CA-148 is” inferred listed” on the January 2010 Compensation and Pension Bulletin Policy(211)… ships lists… for those ships that operated on rivers and deltas: The USS Newport News operated in the Vinh Binh Province in the Mekong Delta December 1968.
    2 The USS Newport News CA-148 is specifically named on June 2010 Compensation and Pension Bulletin for operations at the mouth and in Cua Viet River April 1969.
    3. July 2013 ships list, however, lists The USS Newport News operations in the Mekong Delta (only).
    4. January 2014 ships list still only refers to …Mekong Delta 1968. Be sure you make your VSO and Regional DVA know that you know that C&P Bulletin January 2010 and C&P Bullet June 2010 exists.
    5. It’s very important that Vietnam Veterans read ” The Nehmer Training Guide February 2011 Revised (yes, 2011).
    6 It’s very important Vietnam Veterans read Congressional Research Services Statutory Presumptives by law clerk Nichols.
    7. Tired of Buffalo Regional Office denials, I wrote to the Nehmer Working Group (Dept. of Veterans affairs- Washington D.C.) of Buffalo Regional Office ignoring their own records such as the C&P Bulletins Policy (211) January 2010 and June 2010…to approve my claims.


  14. Da Nang Harbor… “:hides”… in plain sight: that, the anchorage area within Da Nang Harbor is within an “ESTUARY” that consists of Cu De River and the Han River. The substantive evidence… should qualify all ships that entered the “ESTUARY” within Da Nang Harbor …presumption of exposure to agent orange ( and other contaminations) within the geographically territory of Vietnam. THAT WHICH WAS HIDDEN IS NOW REVEALED. Have your claim(s) re-adjudicated by the Nehmer Training Guide ( February 2011 Revised) (yes, February 2011 revised); and, Congressional Research Services / Statutory Presumptives by law clerk Nichols October 2010 (yes, October 2010).


  15. Johnnie L. Todd says:

    I was a ASROC gunnersmate aboard the USS Ozbourn DD 846 from 66-69 in Nam. We anchored on Siagon river to do NGFS, i could see spraying being done, then smell it, it left oily residue on deck of ship,been fighting for 2-1/2 yrs for compensation and health help, just keep being ignored. I think i have Parkinsons and doctor just discovered i’m borderline diabetic. Just filed an appeal, see how it goes, don’t trust any of them. Politicians need to get more involved and quit there gickering all the time.


    • The DVA January 2010 Compensation Pension Policy (211) provides information of Vietnam Naval Operations to include the ships of crews that operated in “RIVERS” and “DELTAS”… the presumption of exposure to herbicides … without further development. The June 2010 Compensation & Pension Bulletin Policy (211) provides ADDITIONAL Information on Vietnam Naval Operations. OF a quick search, I didn’t find your ship listed; But, if you have (let’s say) deck logs, records of latitude / longitude, anything that places your ship of operations in “rivers” and “deltas” providing NGFS, you should be able to file a claim to The Nehmer Training Guide (211A) February 2011 Revised ( by use of The January 2010 DVA Compensation & Pension Bulletin Policy 211) for “RIVER” NGFS. You should also review Congressional Research Services / Statutory Presumptions (by law clerk Nichols October 2010)… to include incubation footnote. Nonetheless, Saigon “RIVER” NGFS are the key words to use Jan. 2010 Compensation & Pension Bulletin Policy (211). Such is to say, if your ship operated on the SAIGON RIVER, you are as eligible as all other ships listed: for the Saigon RIVER. Feel Free:


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