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JOHNSTON ISLAND: Memories of Agent Orange; Fukushima folly – I am a victim of Agent Orange

Memories of Agent Orange; Fukushima folly – I am a victim of Agent Orange

Just like those of us stationed and exposed to AO on Johnston Island after all the AO was sent there in April 1972 from Vietnam, we also get nothing but "turndowns" from VA (the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs). Like Okinawa vets, there have been a few approvals from the VA Appeals Court, but the VA Regional Offices continue to deny until we die!

I have been fighting since 2002 with VA and I just found out that my case was approved to go to the VA Appeals Court (after they sat on it for 18 months). Now I have possibly another two- to three-year wait before I get to court.

My primary AO illness is the extremely rare form of recurring soft tissue sarcoma called liposarcoma., the government's own website, states that a primary cause is from "herbicide exposure." The VA medical side says I was exposed on Johnston Island to AO.

The benefits side of VA states that AO never leaked until 1974, which ignores proof of leakage in 1972 (I arrived in November '72 on JI).

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Legacy of Our Veterans' Military Exposures
  1. Ralph Ferullo Reply

    I was the Deputy Civil Engineer (Capt. USAF) on JI from Dec 71 to Dec 72.  As such I was one of the people overseeing the reception and storing of the AO on JI.  The barrels were leaking from the time they were put on the ship right through the time I left in December.  Initially the AF command in HI told us there was no danger of exposure and the storage area was open and not fenced off.  The civilians rebarreling the AO had no protective clothing.   The coral around the storage area was black with leaking agent. for the entire time I was there. 
    In addition to the 1.37 Million gallons of AO there was 13 tons of nerve gas and a radioactive launch pad.  All on one square mile.
    All military and civilians on the island were exposed to AO

    • Rodolfo Arriaga Reply

      Captain Ferullo, My name is Rodolfo Arriaga, former E-4 Admin clerk, Det. 2, 1957 Comm Gp on Johnston Island from 1974 to 1975. Would you be willing to send an open letter stating the above So that we can employ it as evidence in our fight to acquire service connection to AO Contamination on Johnston Island. Name Rank, Position, Time on Island and any photos or documentation you may have would help tremendously.
      Thank you

  2. Greg Gaines Reply

    I was on JI from April 1971 through May 1972.  I recall a leak that occurred at the ship dock in early 1972.  I have Diabetes Mellitus which I attribute to that exposure.  I am fighting the VA as you did.  Please email me any information that you have that might help me.

    • admin Reply

      I’m sorry to hear of your illness. I hope the following info will be helpful.
      Thank you for your service and welcome home!!
      Sharon L. Perry, Founder

      Exposure not Presumed
      Veterans who do not meet the criteria for presumed exposure to Agent Orange may be eligible for service-connection for related disabilities. This includes:

      Blue Water Veterans who served on ships off the shore of Vietnam that did not operate on the inland waterways of Vietnam, or who did not set foot in Vietnam. Check VA’s list of U.S. Navy and Coast Guard ships that operated in Vietnam.
      Veterans who served on or near the perimeters of military bases in Thailand during the Vietnam Era
      Veterans who served where herbicides were tested and stored outside of Vietnam

      They must show that they were exposed to Agent Orange or other herbicides during military service to be eligible for service-connection for presumptive diseases related to Agent Orange exposure.
      For diseases that are not presumptive, they must show that they were exposed to herbicides and that there is an actual connection between the disease and their herbicide exposure.
      Exception: Blue Water Veterans with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma may be granted service-connection without showing inland waterway service or that they set foot in Vietnam. This is because VA also recognizes non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma as related to service in Vietnam or the waters offshore of Vietnam during the Vietnam Era.
      Check VA’s Guide to Agent Orange Claims to learn more about how to establish eligibility to disability compensation and how much VA pays.

      How to Apply
      You may apply for disability compensation online.
      Vietnam Veterans with chronic b-cell leukemias, Parkinson’s disease, or ischemic heart disease may apply for disability compensation for these diseases using VA’s Fast Track Claims Processing System.
      After VA receives your application, we’ll send you a letter that explains what evidence we need in order to grant your claim. We will help you get records to support your claim, including records of Vietnam service or exposure to Agent Orange or other herbicides during military service. Learn more about the disability claims process.

      Additional Benefits
      Veterans also may be eligible for:

      Agent Orange Registry health exam: A free exam by VA for possible long-term health problems related to herbicide exposure
      Health care benefits: A full range of medical benefits
      Other non-health care benefits: Home loans, vocational rehabilitation, education, and more

      Certain Vietnam-era Veterans’ children with spina bifida or covered birth defects may be eligible for benefits for children with birth defects.
      Surviving spouses, dependent children and dependent parents of Veterans who were exposed to Agent Orange and died as the result of diseases related to Agent Orange exposure may be eligible for survivors’ benefits.
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      Contact VA about Benefits
      By Telephone

      Toll-free Helpline: 1-800-749-8387 Press 3
      Agent Orange Registry Health Exam: Call your local VA Environmental Health Coordinator
      Health Care: 1-877-222-8387
      Compensation and Other Non-Health Care Benefits: 1-800-827-1000
      TDD (for hearing impaired): 1-800-829-4833

      In Person

      Health Care and Agent Orange Registry Health Exam: Go to your nearest VA health care facility.
      Compensation Benefits and Other Non-Health Care Benefits: Go to your nearest VA benefits office.
      (This comment provided by one of our readers – Thanks)

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