Another base chemical contamination issue brought to our attention is the existence of Agent Orange aboard Ft. Chaffee, Arkansas. The base is not currently listed on the EPA Superfund site list (NPL list), but has sparked interest due to potential Agent Orange exposure. According to our research, there appear to be several possibilities for potential exposure:
- Working on aircraft during domestic use post-Vietnam and exposed to residue and residual compounds
- Testing/Use of AO on the base
- Possible burial of AO in the ground at the base
Recently, one of our readers prompted our research into Ft. Chaffee with this question:
“Any info on Ft. Chaffee, Arkansas and use of Agent Orange as weed killer in 1975?”
To the point about the year 1975, we did not locate anything (yet) for that specific year. However, according to web reports, in 2011, the VA admitted to testing Agent Orange at Fort Chaffee in 1966, 1967, and 1968. In that same year, the VA granted the first veteran 100% disability caused by Agent Orange at Chaffee.
The first veteran to actually win a claim of any kind related to domestic exposure to Agent Orange was in 2009 by a veteran exposed at Ft. Gordon. The claim was granted for Chloracne, Diabetes, and Heart Disease with ICD implant, as due to Agent Orange exposure at Fort Gordon, Ga., in the years 1967-1969.
We also located source files on another veteran, believed to be in Waco, Texas, fighting for disability for diabetes, outlining that:
“In this case, the Veteran claims that his diabetes results from exposure to Agent Orange sprayed at Fort Chaffee, Arkansas for seven days between May and August 1967, such spraying having been confirmed by a Department of Defense report on herbicide use outside of Vietnam.”
Finally, we located what we believe are the documents of approval for the first veteran granted 100% disability due to Agent Orange exposure at Chaffee. This is a VA decision for the veteran that establishes service connection for ischemic heart disease at 100%, Type II diabetes mellitus at 20%, and basic eligibility to Dependents’ Educational Assistance.
- Link to PDF document of VA Ruling
- Copy of Signed Notarization for Public Use of Document linked above for other cases
In the ruling linked above, evidence of Agent Orange use at Ft. Chaffee is described as follows:
- “Evidence is taken as showing that you were exposed to Agent Orange while on duty at Ft. Chaffee”
- “Reports show that Agent Orange was applied on Ft. Chaffee installation boundary between 1967 and 1968.”
The ruling document also references a government/military memorandum that:
“specifically stated that different herbicides were tested for defoliant efficiency at Ft. Chaffee during the 1960’s and that the latest report regarding history of DOD testing programs confirmed that herbicides were used in the defoliant spray areas at least once and that ‘although it was always suspected that herbicide orange was used it was never confirmed before this study…[and that] it described an event that happened between July and October 1967 at which…2 drums of Herbicide Orange…were used on two 3 acre plots within one’ of the defoliant spray areas.” Further, “an internet website regarding Public Health lists that Agent Orange was used at Ft. Chaffee during the period of December 1966 to October 1967. The combination of this evidence is considered sufficient to show that you were probably exposed to Agent Orange due to be at Ft. Chaffee during the time frame when they applied Agent Orange.”
Meanwhile, despite all of the above proof of domestic Agent Orange exposure, some cases are still hard fought. Take this example shared with us from August, 2016 –
A judge in the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims on Aug. 24 remanded for review a case in which a veteran contends that he was exposed to Agent Orange while stationed at a military base in Arkansas, stating that it has not been determined whether the presumption of exposure has been established (Glenn R. Heffington v. Robert A. McDonald, No. 15-2603, U.S. App. Vet. Clms.; 2016 U.S. App. Vet. Claims LEXIS 1282).
As you can clearly see, despite establishing use and exposure in previous cases, others are still getting the runaround from the VA on establishment of presumption of exposure.
We’ll keep you posted as new reports come in. If you were at Ft. Chaffee from 1966-1967, or believe you were exposed to residual contamination afterwards, definitely look into a claim. Consult your local VSO.
We’ve provided additional links and documents for you to learn more about this issue.
Documents on Agent Orange at Chaffee:
- Congressman Boozman’s Letter August 2008
- Final Report February 2009
- Draft Report April 2009
- Battelle Report March 2009
- US Army Corps of Engineers Final Report May 1994
News Reports on Ft. Chaffee:
News Reports on Agent Orange at Ft. Gordon:
- VA Page on Airplanes and Agent Orange Residue
- Fort Detrick Forum Page with stories and claims for Ft. Chaffee
- EPA Superfund Page
Ft. Chaffee EPA Contacts:
- Remedial Project Manager (RPM) Noel Bennett (214) 665-8514
- Site Assessment Manager (SAM) Brenda Cook (214) 665-7436