(Washington, D.C.)––“Vietnam Veterans of America applauds VA Secretary Bob McDonald for doing the right thing for C-123 crew members who were exposed to Agent Orange,” said John Rowan, VVA National President. The VA’s regulation governing individuals presumed to have been exposed to certain herbicides has been broadened, extending eligibility to Air Force Reserve personnel exposed to Agent Orange through contact with contaminated C-123 aircraft. These aircraft had been used in Vietnam as part of Operation Ranch Hand. Secretary McDonald has stayed within his statutory authority, yet provided justice for these Americans who have suffered toxic wounds.
As of today, Air Force Reserve flight, medical, and ground maintenance crewmembers who served on the contaminated C-123s are now presumed to have been exposed to herbicides during their service, making them eligible for any of the 14 medical conditions that have been determined by VA to be related to exposure to Agent Orange. They may register for medical care immediately.
Secretary McDonald made his decision to expand benefits based on supporting evidence outlined in the Institute of Medicine’s 2015 report by the National Academy of Sciences, Post-Vietnam Dioxin Exposure in Agent Orange-Contaminated C-123 Aircraft. This decision will impact the 1,500 to 2,100 Air Force Reserve personnel who served as flight, medical, and ground maintenance crew members on C-123 aircraft previously used to spray Agent Orange in Vietnam.
Under this new rule, VA will presume that for affected Air Force Reserve crew members, their Agent Orange-related condition had its onset during their Reserve training. This change ensures these reservists are eligible for VA disability compensation, as well as medical care, and their surviving dependents are eligible for dependency and indemnity compensation and burial benefits.
VA encourages reservists who were assigned to flight, ground, or medical crew duties, during the period 1969 to 1986, at the following locations, and developed an Agent Orange-related disability, to file a disability compensation claim:
- Lockbourne/Rickenbacker Air Force Base in Ohio (906th and 907th Tactical Air Groups or 355th and 356th Tactical Airlift Squadron);
- Westover Air Force Base in Massachusetts (731st Tactical Air Squadron and 74th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron); or
- Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, International Airport (758th Airlift Squadron)
VA also has identified several active-duty locations where Operation Ranch Hand C-123 aircraft may have been used following their service in Vietnam. Active-duty personnel who served in a regular USAF unit location where a contaminated C-123 was assigned, and who had regular and repeated contact with the aircraft through flight, ground, or medical duties during the period 1969 to 1986, and who develop an Agent Orange-related disability, are also encouraged to apply for benefits.
Individuals with specific benefit questions related to herbicide exposure on C-123s may call VA’s special C-123 Hotline at 1-800-749-8387 or
For more information on applying for these benefits, including the affected units, Air Force Specialty Codes and dates of service for affected crew members, and a listing of Agent Orange-related conditions, visit www.benefits.va.gov/COMPENSATION/claims-postservice-agent_orange.asp