Feds acknowledge claim by Vietnam veteran
By Mar-Vic Cagurangan
Variety News Staff
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has acknowledged the benefits claim filed by a Vietnam war veteran who developed a cancer of the larynx, eventually causing his speech disability, as a result of his direct exposure to Agent Orange when he was stationed on Guam between 1968 and 1969.
DVA has agreed to provide Robert L. Burgett a full grant of benefits effective May 17 of this year.
In its March 27 decision, DVA agreed to grant Burgett a special monthly compensation "based on complete organic aphonia with constant inability to communicate by speech."
Burgett was stationed on Andersen Air Force Base from March 5, 1968 to Sept. 4, 1968 and June 1969 to Sept, 18, 1969. As a material facility specialist, Burgett was tasked to haul drums of toxic chemicals from one storage area to another.
"It is also noted that while serving in Guam chemical around the bases was used to control the weeds," DVA stated in its decision.
Agent Orange was a type of defoliant used by the U.S. military from 1961 to 1971, in its chemical warfare program during the Vietnam War. Agent Orange and similar herbicides were sprayed extensively in Vietnam to thin the jungles and make it easier for U.S. troops to advance.
Degradation of these herbicides released dioxins, which have caused harm to the health of those exposed during the Vietnam war. The chemicals have been linked to cancer, lymphoma, and birth defects prevalent in Vietnam.