USS CANBERRA 

CA 70 / CAG 2

 

 

Agent Orange And VA Claims

  1. Introduction
  2. May 2015
  3. May 15, 2015
  4. Jan 2015
  5. September 2014
  6. June 2014
  7. February 2014
  8. January 2014
  9. October 2013
  10. December 2012 #1
  11. December 2012 #2
  12. December 2012 #3


 

Introduction

Many of our shipmates were exposed to Agent Orange during the Vietnam War. Others have other service connected health claims that need attention. This section is mostly about Agent Orange and getting support for VA claims. If you have some other illness attributed to your service, you can use parts of this to help in getting your claims through the Veterans Administration's cumbersome and confusing claims process.

 

 

May 2015

From the VFW Website: http://www.vfw.org/NVS/ Filing a VA Claim

As the largest organization of combat veterans, the VFW understands the frustrations that can arise when filing  a claim with the Department of Veterans Affairs. The claims process can be confusing and one that service members and veterans shouldn't try to navigate alone. That's why the VFW's National Veterans Service (NVS) was created. NVS consists of a nationwide network of service officers who are experts in dealing with the  claims process and help thousands of veterans cut through the bureaucratic red tape every year. They are the   key to success, recovering approximately $1 billion in earned benefits and compensation for veterans each year. VFW Service Officers are trained experts, helping veterans develop their case with ease by reviewing and applying current law, pertinent legislation, regulations and medical histories. As skilled professionals, they assist in filing for disability compensation, rehabilitation and education programs, pension and death benefits, and employment and training programs. Furthermore, they won’t hesitate to request hearings before the VA and the Board of Veterans Appeals to present oral arguments when needed. VFW Service Officers are with America's veterans every step of the way once they're ready to file a claim. This is a service  the VFW is proud to offer--free of charge--to anyone seeking assistance with the claims process. It's a service our veterans have earned and deserve.

VFW SERVICE OFFICER RESPONSIBILITIES INCLUDE:

  • Offer research and advice to veterans who wish to handle their own claims.
  • Assist veterans who are filing original claims for compensation and/or  pension with   the Department of Veterans Affairs and complete the required VA forms on behalf of the claimant.
  • Assist veterans in reopening claims for service-connected disabilities and complete the required VA forms.
  • Follow up on status of claims filed by veterans with the VA Regional Office.
  • File Notice of Disagreement with the VA Regional Office if a veteran believes the decision made by the VA was incorrect.
  • Review statements of the case from the VA regarding denials of claim and assist veterans with the preparation of responses.
  • Assist veterans or surviving spouses in the preparation of appeals for denial of claims and file the appeals with the local VA Regional Office for forwarding to the Board of Veterans Appeals in Washington, D.C.
  • Complete VA Forms other than for original claims.
  • Answer/research telephone inquiries regarding medical, death/burial and other miscellaneous benefits.

 

May 15, 2015

Agent Orange Update: From the 15 May 2015 RAO Bulletin

The Court of Appeals for Veteran Claims has made a landmark ruling that will help many Navy and Coast Guard vets who have  been classified as Blue Water Sailors. The case was Gray vs McDonald and was decided on April 24, 2015. This will greatly benefit many Vietnam Navy veterans effected by Agent Orange. In it they declared that the Harbors of Danang, Cam Ranh Bay and Vung Tau must now be classified Brown water      instead of Blue water. Basically the court said these ports were classified as deep-water, but should have been classified as being in the spray area and not by the fact that large vessels could enter them. The VA must now declare all vessels that entered these harbors as dioxin (AO) exposed and compensate the sailors on them that have presumptive diseases that are recognized as having their genesis in AO exposure. In regard to service in mouth of rivers, such as minesweepers, the court said that even the VA Secretary declared that there is no  definite boundaries of a river mouths, therefore they cannot just make a decision by “flipping a coin” as to what vessels were exposed  and which were not. The court further stated that inland water service cannot be limited to the ships that are on their “official” ship’s list. The emphasis should be on the likelihood of exposure to herbicide and that the fact that a large river’s brown water plume can extend far out to sea. It stated that the use of “mouth” and “borders” around Vietnam may extend well beyond the physical land mass of a river and the VA’s current interpretation of the code of Federal Regulations that cover this area are “arbitrary and capricious”. To put the icing on the cake, the court ruled that the VA’s reliance on the IOM’s (Institute of Medicine) 2011 report on dioxin exposure is unacceptable because the IOM was “too general and inconclusive in nature”. This means that the VA’s rating system cannot conclusively contend that some offshore vessels were NOT contaminated by AO. Finally, the court ordered the VA to redraw its lines and rules as to what are the proper boundaries and “exercise its fair and considered judgment to define inland waterways in a manner consistent with the regulations with emphasis on the probability of exposure”. In essence they said the present methods are patently unfair. This ruling should bode well for sailors and Coast Guardsmen who sailed and flew into areas that should have been considered contaminated long ago. However, for all vets who may have  a claim in the works, the regulations are going to have to be promulgated by the VA and they must decide if they wish to honor past claims as they may look at this as new rules that did not apply when the original case was denied.  The VA can be very obtuse about how they honor a change of the code of Federal Regulations. They also have a right   to appeal this to the U.S. District Court, but that is very doubtful.

www.veteransresources.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/Bulletin-150515-PDF-Edition.pdf

 

 

Jan 2015

Veterans Administration

Good Morning Friends;

I just wanted to take this opportunity to thank each of you for your kind support in my endeavor to have the Veterans Administration accept my claim for prostate cancer and open the channels that may be needed later in regard to my health. It was approved after appealing their first decision and I credit that decision to approve my claims on your willingness to back me up with letters stating your knowledge that my claim to them was based in fact and in line with their requirements to prove my eligibility. I can't thank you enough and as I am sure that you know that even though I hope you never need me to do the same for you, that I am perfectly willing to do so. I also want to thank other veterans and veteran organizations who have paved the way with proof using deck logs and personal witness. The USS Canberra veterans group has been very beneficial to me as Ken Minick and others has exerted a lot of effort to keep these issues on the websites and update us whenever possible.  I am not experiencing cancer presently and have been getting good reports from my physicals, but I felt it important to be ready in the event that it were to recur. 

Again, thanks for your help and to those too numerous too mention by name who have fought the good fight on behalf of veterans everywhere. In the event that this is read by the spouse please pass it along to my brothers with my deepest love and respect.


Kenny Vaden Sr,
123 W Lake Villa Blvd.
Dickson, Tn  37055

 

 

September 2014

I am pleased to inform you that the Department of Veterans Affairs has added April 1965 to those dates already specified for the USS Canberra on the list of ships associated with service in the waters of Vietnam and potential Agent Orange exposure. 

My coworker, Brian Lueth, worked closely with some of you on obtaining the information necessary for Congressman Ribble to make the request to the VA.  Thank you for your help!

Please see the attached letter, and share with those who will benefit.

Best wishes,
Kerry Niemcek Skaleski
Office of Congressman Reid Ribble WI 8

 

June 2014 (Summer 2014 Newsletter)

Request for Documentation of Early 1965 Cruise to DaNang Harbor

Congressman Reid Ribble is assisting constituent and USS Canberra sailor Wayne Damp and others who served in establishing that the USS Canberra entered Vietnam’s inland waterways on a number of occasions in March and April 1965.

Currently, deck logs from April 9 reference sailing “in the vicinity of ‘Cape Tourane’” and disembarking a Commander Ackerman. A reference is also made on April 15, 1965 to commence “maneuvering at various courses and speeds to enter DaNang Bay, Vietnam.”

Congressman Ribble has previously worked with Vietnam Navy Veterans to coordinate deck logs and veteran testimonials and was successful in having another vessel – the USS Gurke -- added to the Department of   Veterans Affairs (VA) registry for Agent Orange benefit purposes.

Our office respectfully requests documentation, including but not limited to recollections or photos of the USS Canberra sailors’ experiences in and around DaNang Harbor.

Please feel free to forward items to:
Congressman Reid Ribble
550 N. Military Ave., Suite 4B
Green Bay, WI 54303
Or email them to kerry.niemcek@mail.house.gov

If you have questions, please feel free to call Kerry in the Green Bay office at 920-471-1950.

 


February 2014 (Spring 2014 Newsletter)

Agent Orange Update for Sept 1968 to Jan 1969 WestPac Cruise

This message was received from shipmate Bob Wiltse on January 29, 2014. Bob was a BM-3 in 3rd Division.

My name is Bob Wiltse. I served aboard the U.S.S. Canberra CAG-2 (CA-70) from September 1968 thru February 1970. I was a crewmember for the '68 WestPac cruise to the gun Line off the coast of Vietnam. The U.S.S. Canberra departed San Diego, CA on September 5, 1968 for Naval Support Combat duty from Hoi An, South Vietnam to Hon Mott and Haiphong, North Vietnam.

Over the past 5 – 6 years I have consistently and diligently fought the hard fight with the VA over my Prostate Cancer claim and now have been granted "Military Service Connection for Prostate Cancer and ED" as I was able to prove through a lot of hard work and validate to the VA that the Canberra did indeed enter Vietnam's Inland Waterways at Longitude – (16*- 54.2'N by Latitude – 107* -11.0'E) on Dec 10th, 1968 for an H & I (8" - .55 Cal) Fire support mission on a VC occupied area for the 3rd U.S. Marines just north of Cua Viet, South Vietnam along the "Song Thach Hai River".

VA DRO's 12/23/2013 Decision:

"Based on the Deck Logs from the U.S.S. Canberra from December 10, 1968 that listed that the ship was at 16°-54.2'N by 107°-11.0'E. The latitude and longitude coordinates puts the ship on the Vietnam inland waterways. Therefore exposure to Agent Orange has been conceded."

It is my intention today to provide to all of you that served on the U.S.S. Canberra CAG-2 (CA-70) for that ’68 tour of duty on the gun line off the coast of Vietnam from September 5, 1968 thru January 6, 1969, the assistance you require and only the evidence that you will need to connect the dots for the VA and successfully bring your claim for any of the diseases from the “Presumptive List” to closure.
 
I have prepared in a PDF format the necessary documents to immediately begin to assist those crew members of the 1,122 that were onboard on that date and are still alive or their spouses, if the Veteran has passed away.  I submitted this evidence to the VA.GOV A/O Orange Ships list on 1/10/2014 and on 1/28/2014, the U.S.S. Canberra CAG-2 (CA-70) was “Officially” added & recognized - to the Agent Orange Ships list for the date of December 10th, 1968. 

Here is the VA.GOV website that posts the Ships that the VA recognizes that you will need and their following response:

http://www.publichealth.va.gov/exposures/agentorange/conditions/index.asp 

 

Re: Fw: [EXTERNAL] Submission of Evidence - U.S.S. Canberra CA-70 - 12/10/1968 - Add to the A/O Ships List

Mr. Wiltse,

I have added the December 10, 1968, date to the other dates for the USS Canberra (CAG-2).  This is based on evidence that “latitude 16 – longitude 107” is in the vicinity of the Cua Viet River, South of   DaNang, as well as your deck logs showing that the ship encountered a US Army river dredge on that date.  Additionally, I previously received the ship’s 1968 Command History, showing the ship provided medical assistance on December 9, 1968, to a LCM (Landing Craft, Mechanized), which was a small vessel generally used on the inland rivers.  The weight of this evidence indicates inland waterway activity and is sufficient to add the new date. 

USS Canberra (CAG-2) [Guided Missile Cruiser] operated on Saigon River from March 31 through April 1, 1966, on Mekong Delta Ham Luong River during January 15, 1967, and on Cua Viet River (Song Thach Han) during December 10, 1968.

Canberra (CAG-2) - Operated on Saigon River from March 31 through April 1, 1966, on Mekong Delta Ham Luong River during January 15, 1967, and on Cua Viet River (Song Thach Han) during December 10, 1968

If you have a pending claim for “any” disease or health issue that is currently on the “PRESUMPTIVE LIST” the addition of the U.S.S. Canberra CAG-2 (CA-70) to that list for the date of 12/10/1968 will now prove   Military Service Connection to Agent Orange due to the Canberra did indeed enter an “Inland Waterway” on 12/10/1968.

If you have yet to file a claim for any of the Agent Orange “Presumptive List” diseases or health issues          because it has been such an enormous task and process nightmare to get through with the VA, contact Ken at this website and he will forward your contact info to me and I will do everything I can based on my personal experience with the correct documents in hand to get you through the process...........successfully!

This evidence is now conclusive and validated by the VA.

Thank you for your service to this nation and remember to always help a fellow Veteran!

Bob Wiltse
Vietnam Veterans of America
Minnesota State Council
Legislative Committee Chairman For – H.R. 543 – The Blue Water Navy Veterans Act of 2013

 

 

January 2014 (www.usscanberra.com Guest Book)

USS Canberra & Agent Orange

There are about 15 diseases recognized by VA that were caused by Agent Orange.
Canberra sailors who served on cruises in Vietnam waters are qualified for VA benefits.
I was diagnosed with Prostate cancer about 5 years ago.
I was given a 40% disability.
If I can help any Canberra sailors please feel free  to contact me.

Bill McEwen 

Fishhunt4@charter.net

 

 

October 2013 (www.usscanberra.com Guest Book)

Agent Orange

Please contact your local DAV office for help filing your paperwork.
It took two years to be determined eligible, but all funds were retroactive back to the first time filed.
Please note that I was denied the first time, but my wife insisted that I not give up.
I say the same to each of you, pray and do not give up.

Bless you

John E Dorsey
USS Canberra 1961-65 and 1967-69

 

 

December 2012 #1

USS Canberra Winter 2012 Newsletter - Agent Orange Update

The USS Canberra (CAG-2) operated on the Saigon River from March 31 through April 1, 1966, on the Cua Viet River during December 15, 1966, and on the Mekong Delta Ham Luong River during January 15, 1967.

For the purposes of VA compensation benefits, Veterans who served anywhere in Vietnam between January 9, 1962 and May 7, 1975 are presumed to have been exposed to herbicides, as specified in the Agent Orange Act of 1991. These Veterans do not need to show that they were exposed to Agent Orange or other herbicides in order to get disability compensation for diseases related to Agent Orange exposure.

Service in Vietnam means service on land in Vietnam or on the inland waterways of Vietnam. This includes Veterans who:Set foot in Vietnam. (This includes brief visits
ashore, such as when a ship docked to the shore of Vietnam or when a ship operated in Vietnam’s close coastal waters for extended periods and crew members went ashore, or smaller vessels from the ship went ashore with supplies or personnel.

The Veteran further must provide a statement of personally going ashore.) Served on a ship while it operated on the inland waterways of Vietnam.

Blue Water Veterans are not presumed to have been exposed to Agent Orange or other herbicides unless they set foot in Vietnam or served aboard ships that operated on the inland waterways of Vietnam anytime between January 9, 1962 and May 7, 1975.

Note: Since the above was published, another date has been added to the above:
"Based on the Deck Logs from the U.S.S. Canberra from December 10, 1968 that listed that the ship was at 16°-54.2'N by 107°-11.0'E. The latitude and longitude coordinates puts the ship on the Vietnam inland waterways. Therefore exposure to Agent Orange has been conceded."

 

 

December 2012 #2

USS Canberra Winter 2012 Newsletter - Veterans of Foreign Wars - VFW National Veterans Service

As the largest organization of combat veterans, we understand the frustrations that can arise with making a VA claim. That’s why our National Veterans Service (NVS) was created. Our nationwide network of skilled VFW Veterans Service Officers helps you wade through all the bureaucratic red tape, offering you a better opportunity to get the disability claim you deserve.
You don’t even need to be a VFW member to take advantage of this free service.

As a veteran, this is a service you’ve earned.

Go to: http://www.vfw.org/NVS/

 

 

December 2012 #3

USS Canberra Winter 2012 Newsletter - The American Legion

http://www.legion.org/serviceofficers/214510/ask-service-officer-agent-orange-exposure

Q. How do I know if I have a claim for Agent Orange?

A. Many Vietnam War veterans are concerned that they have been exposed to Agent Orange, the chemical herbicide used to destroy jungle foliage in order to expose enemy troops. Public Law 107-103 provides a presumption of exposure to herbicides for all veterans who served in Vietnam during the Vietnam era. You do not have to prove you were sprayed or in an area that was sprayed if you served in Vietnam from Jan. 9, 1962, to May 7, 1975. However, before you begin to file a claim, you must have proof of service in Vietnam during the war time and medical documentation of the condition(s) officially recognized by VA.

The following is a list of diseases that VA recognizes as related to Agent Orange exposure:

  • Peripheral neuropathy (acute and subacute)
  • AL amyloidosis
  • Chloracne
  • Chronic B-cell leukemia
  • Hodgkin's disease
  • Ischemic heart disease
  • Multiple myeloma
  • Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma
  • Parkinson's disease
  • Porphyria cutanea tarda
  • Prostate cancer
  • Respiratory cancers (e.g., lung, larynx, trachea and bronchus)
  • Soft tissue sarcoma (other than osteosarcoma, chondrosarcoma, Kaposi's sarcoma or mesothelioma)
  • Type 2 diabetes

Learn more about the diseases: www.publichealth.va.gov/exposures/agentorange/diseases.asp

Vietnam veterans who were exposed to Agent Orange may be eligible for an Agent Orange registry health exam, health care benefits and disability compensation. Contact your local American Legion accredited service officer to discuss possible benefits and file a claim: www.legion.org/serviceofficers

Note: This was written in 2012. Other diseases may have been added!

 

 

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