The Department of Veterans Affairs has determined that a select group of Air Force and Air Force Reserve personnel were exposed to herbicides through regular and repeated duties as ground, flight or medical crew members on contaminated Operation Ranch Hand (ORH) C-123 aircraft that were used to spray Agent Orange in Vietnam.
Who is eligible?
Any Air Force veteran or Air Force reservist who was assigned to one of the affected reserve or active duty units as a ground, flight or medical crew member on a contaminated aircraft and later developed a disability that has been linked to Agent Orange exposure should file a claim.
The VA has information indicating that few Air Force units (active duty and reserve) had one or more of the contaminated aircraft during the period 1969 through 1986 (depending on unit of assignment). The VA compiled a list of these units and the dates on which they had the aircraft, which is publicly available at www.publichealth.va.gov/exposures/agentorange/locations/residue-c123-aircraft/index.asp.
Who should you contact at Department of Defense for records?
If you are a veteran or next-of-kin of a deceased veteran, you may now use vetrecs.archives.gov to order a copy of your military records. For all others, your request is best made using a Standard Form 180. It includes complete instructions for preparing and submitting requests. Please note: All requests must be in writing, signed and mailed to this address: National Personnel Records Center, 1 Archives Drive, St. Louis, MO 63138.
How can you apply?
Claimants are encouraged to apply online through the eBenefits portal. You can apply by filling out VA Form 21-526, Veterans Application for Compensation and/or Pension, or VA Form 21-526EZ, Fully Developed Claim (Compensation).
Please ensure that each C-123 related disability is specifically annotated (e.g., Diabetes/C-123) on Part II, Block 14 of VA Form 21-526, or Section I, Block 11 of VA Form 21-526EZ.
If you have any of the following material, please submit it with your application:
Discharge, separation papers (DD214 or equivalent)
USAF Form 2096 (unit where assigned at the time of the training action)
USAF Form 5 (aircraft flight duties)
USAF Form 781 (aircraft maintenance duties)
Dependency records (marriage & children’s birth certificates)
Medical evidence (doctor & hospital reports)
How do eligible survivors and dependents apply?
Eligible survivors and dependents can apply for DIC, Death Pension & Accrued Benefits by Surviving Spouse or Child by filling out VA Form 21-534EZ, Fully Developed Claim (Survivors Benefits).
Please ensure “C-123 claim” is annotated on Section I, Block 7 of VA Form 21-534 or Section I, Block 16 of VA Form 21-534EZ.
How do I get more information?
Contact your local county veterans service officer for more information and assistance in filing your claims.
All C-123 claims are processed at the St. Paul Regional Office. Veterans can call (800) 749-8387, or email VSCC123.VAVBASPL@va.gov.
Richard Schleeter is the veterans service officer for the La Plata County Veterans Service Office. He can be reached at 759-0117 or firstname.lastname@example.org.