Facing South

Veteran wins groundbreaking claim for Agent Orange exposure at Georgia military base

agent_orange_protest.jpgA U.S. veteran living in Tennessee has won what's thought to be the first Veterans Administration claim for exposure inside the continental United States to Agent Orange, an herbicide that was used by the military to clear jungles during the Vietnam War.

Agent Orange -- which got its name from the color of the barrels it was shipped in -- was among the herbicides used the U.S. military during the Vietnam era that were contaminated with dioxins, chemicals known to cause birth defects and genetic mutations as well as cancers. It was produced by companies including Dow Chemical and Monsanto.

Earlier this month, the VA granted the claim of James Cripps related to his exposure to the chemical while he was stationed at Fort Gordon, Ga. He sought compensation for medical conditions related to Agent Orange including chloracne, diabetes and heart disease.

Cripps, who currently serves as the chair of the Vietnam Veterans of America Tennessee Agent Orange Committee, announced the news in an online veterans' issues forum:

On November 2, 2009, I won the first ever VA claim for Agent Orange exposure, "inside the Continental United States." 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. You will be able to read the Board Of Veterans Appeals detailed decision along with the supporting evidence at WWW.va.gov in a couple of months when it is posted. From the web site choose Board of Veterans Appeals, then click on Decisions. Next type in the search box Docket No.08-11 937.

A Vietnam War-era Army veteran, Cripps worked as a game warden at Fort Gordon near Augusta, Ga. He was exposed to Agent Orange while spraying the chemical in the lakes around the fort to kill weeds. When he left the military he suffered from chloracne and later developed other health problems related to his exposure.

Documents obtained by WTVF NewsChannel 5 Investigates in Nashville, Tenn. showed that helicopters sprayed at least 95 gallons of Agent Orange at Fort Gordon in 1967. As the station reported last year:

... Cripps is on multiple medications and he's struggling to pay his medical bills. And now the VA is actually garnishing his Social Security checks.

"We have discussed of late, even yesterday, the thought of suicide," he confides.

After years of service, Cripps and his wife feel broken and betrayed.

"I can see why some veterans would give up," Sandra Cripps says. "It's not fair."

Other stateside areas where Agent Orange use has been documented include Fort Chaffee in Arkansas and the Apalachicola National Forest in Florida. 

In 1991 Congress passed the Agent Orange Act, giving the Department of Veterans Affairs the authority to declare certain health conditions related to Agent Orange exposure and making affected veterans eligible for treatment and compensation.

Among the longtime "presumptive conditions" are various cancers, type 2 diabetes and chloracne. Earlier this month the VA added three new conditions to the list: Parkinson's disease, ischemic heart disease, and B cell leukemias.

And it wasn't only U.S. military personnel who were exposed to Agent Orange: Vietnam estimates that 400,000 of its people were killed or hurt by the chemical defoliant, 500,000 children were born with birth defects related to their parents' exposure, and another 2 million people suffered related cancers or other illnesses.

(Photo is from www.couragetoresist.org.)


People Referenced:


re: Veteran wins groundbreaking claim for Agent Orange exposure

Thanks to Ms. Sturgis for this article. It is good to know that even though it is incredibly difficult and takes many years, veterans exposed to dioxin in the US can at least theoretically win justice from the VA appeals process. Also, thanks for not forgetting the Vietnamese victims of defoliants. They number in the millions and they have gotten no significant help from the US government, and none at all from the chemical companies. Congress must rectify this injustice.

re: Veteran wins groundbreaking claim for Agent Orange exposure

Bravo to Sue Sturgis for mentioning the Vietnamese!

I'd like to mention another couple of nationalities wrapped up in this story - Canadians and Americans. I have a book saying that Robert McNamara commissioned the creation of a manual on defoliation in 1961. In order to gather data for this, Fort Detrick personnel set out and performed Agent testing in many parts of the world including my home town Canadian Forces Base Gagetown, New Brunswick, Canada. It's Canada's largest combat training area. The Maine National Guard used to train there too, but as far as I know they stopped coming here in 2005 when our dirty secret was at last revealed. Information Manual for Vegetation Control in Southeast Asia mentions both New Brunswick and Georgia, and details things like how much Agent Orange was effective in killing certain species of plants.

Other places in the continental United States (CONUS) and outside the continental U.S. (OCONUS) are mentioned in this manual too. Email me for a scanned copy of this manual at:

There is much more to be reported on the North American angle of the Agent Orange story. Hundreds of thousands of gallons of this chemical warfare weapon were sprayed in CFB Gagetown alone. Some places in Canada and the USA are - to this day - just as or more contaminated than the air bases in Vietnam. There have been thousands of domestic victims, and this story has been more carefully hidden than the Manhattan Project for decades. Liability, you know. This cover-up only delayed justice because now we're launching class actions against the Canadian government. Ottawa's immediate reaction to this was to make Dow and Monsanto co-defendants. What does that tell you?
Kelly Porter Franklin

re: Veteran wins groundbreaking claim for Agent Orange exposure

My husband grew up on Base Gagetown.His father was stationed there from 1957 to 1976.The spraying went on for more than the two summers that thay addmit to.They were still spraying Agent white and agent purple well into the '80s.He is now disabled at the age of 57 with a mulitude of health problems.We are involed in a class action lawsuit against the goverment.We will NEVER give up!!!This is great news for all that were affected.

re: Veteran wins groundbreaking claim for Agent Orange exposure

I lived in Gagetown N.B Canada as a child for several years and was there during the spraying the goverement is admitting to. I am 55 and most days feel like 80. I have to many illnesss to name a few are: I am diabletic and have fibermyalga,I have several problems with my blood and have cronic pain which I require strong pain meds just to get through a day.. I go to bed at night when I can sleep with pain and when I awake the pain is still there. Imagine living with 3 of your teeth aching and 2ear aches then add a legs broken.I have had 20 sugeries on my legs, lost my teeth at a very young age and that is the tip of the iceburg. If it were not for my husband and my children I would not be here, I would have given into the pain a long time ago. Now I live on a small disability pension living day to day..Is this fare to me? Why do I pay for what my goverment did to me.. I to am involved in the class action lawsuit , but know in my heart I will never see any compinsation for my hellish life of pain. I to will never give up and will keep talking to who ever I can and NEVER let this just go away.Your win I hope will open doors for the rest of us.

re: Veteran wins groundbreaking claim for Agent Orange exposure

Valerie, just curious, did you live in Upper or Lower Gagetown or did you live in the town of Oromocto??

re: Veteran wins groundbreaking claim for Agent Orange exposure

Thanks for posting this article. I'm giving Kangen Water to a Vet who was exposed to Agent Orange and he's had miraculous results. I'm doing research so that others can be helped.


re: Veteran wins groundbreaking claim for Agent Orange exposure


re: Veteran wins groundbreaking claim for Agent Orange exposure

where do I go from here? My husband of 32 years passed away from Agent Orange contributed prostate cancer this year. He suffered for 10 years and so did our family. Now I am left with medical bills,house payments(likely loose it) and other bills that cannot be paid with my small income. We had no life insurance but the small VA $10,000.00
I'm 64 and scared, does anyone have suggestions for me?

re: Veteran wins groundbreaking claim for Agent Orange exposure

I was fortunate to be stationed at Ft. Gordon Ga for both basic and MP AIT Sep 1968 - Mar 1969 . I was even more fortunate to be stationed in South Korea 17 miles south from the DMZ but conducted daily armed escorts to the DMZ including the Joint Services Area on the North Korean Border in the DMZ Mar 1969--
Jan 1970. I have Diabetis Melitis and associated diseases. The VA has denied my claim for service connected disability and treatment. Any words of wisdom.

re: Veteran wins groundbreaking claim for Agent Orange exposure

Why don't you apply for your social security benefits early. That should get you another 9000.00 or 10,000.00 a year. Maybe with the Va pension of 10,000.00 and the social security you would be able to keep your house.

re: Veteran wins groundbreaking claim for Agent Orange exposure

When I was aboard ship Ibroke out in puss like pimples all over my face, hair neck, groin area,butt, behind ears and when I arrived in San Deigo Cailf. was hospitalized for over a month and the medical board discharged me as unfit for military service. I had all the signs of Chloracne, and they sandpapered my back for weeks and I was in so much pain that they made fun of me at the medical board because they thought I only had acne
and that I was looking for a way out of the service.I just came back from Vietnam off a helocopter carrier. I was a signalman inhaling all the fumes from the choppers. I have been turned down from my claim on Chlorance if any body knows a good attorney
please contact me by e-mail thanks Bill

re: Veteran wins groundbreaking claim for Agent Orange exposure

i would like a scanned copy of the manual re:robert mcnamara and u.s. testing. thank you.

re: Veteran wins groundbreaking claim for Agent Orange exposure

No it wasn't only military personnel exposed to Agent Orange and as sick as it's going to sound, Agent Orange was also sprayed on Fort Gordon,Georgia. In 1967 my father was on active duty and stationed at Fort Gordon,Augusta GA., along with my mother and Six children.I was 15 years old at the time(1967) I can remember swimming in the same lakes that Agent Orange was sprayed around;There was 100's and maybe 1000's of children on Fort Gordon during that year.My mother was the first to die of Agent Orange with IHD (Ischemic Heart Didease) and Diabetes Mellitus better known as Typ-2 Diabetes these disabilities are a very few of the presumptive diseases associated with exposure to the AO herbicides. I also have one brother and one sister that's Diagnose with Type-2 Diabetes.I fellowed in my fathers foot-steps and joined the Army and also fellowed the Nations call to fight in Vietnam. One year in Nam got my heart right because I also pick up not one three presumptive diseases, Paralysis of External Popliteal Nerve in the Left and the Right leg,Diabetes Mellitus and IHD.Between Fort Gordon and South Vietnam Agent Ogange did the EDEN family. I have claims pending but what about my brother and sister that was exposed? LORD what can they do? My story have no end,not here on earth.Department of Deffense? Help my family do what you want with me, but help my family.

re: Veteran wins groundbreaking claim for Agent Orange exposure

While stationed at Sembach A.B., Germany in 1967 with the 603rd Matron Sq. we received four barrels of "Agent Orange" and used it in our shop for parts cleaner, paint stripper, drain cleaner, and I personally, was instructed to use it to spray around standing water for three-consecutive days. I've tried to be tested for exposure and the VA doctors have refused because they say it was never in Europe, only in Asia.

re: Veteran wins groundbreaking claim for Agent Orange exposure

Vernard please email me I need our stories-

re: Veteran wins groundbreaking claim for Agent Orange exposure

I was wondering if anyone could direct me to more information about vets that could have been exposed to Agent Orange in 1971-1974 at a stateside fort? My husband passed away after being diagnosed with Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma in 1995. Although he didn't leave the states, he did do field duty at Fort Campbell and I wondering if the equipment that was brought back to the state could have been contameniated. We had 2 children who are grown now, but suffer from anxiety problems.

re: Veteran wins groundbreaking claim for Agent Orange exposure

My dad was a hero to me, he served three tours in vietnam, we lived on ft Gordon in 1965-67 Now I can say ,by his on mouth that he put his family first, and the only way he knew how to feed us 5 kids was to go to war period,I am a soldier he would tell me,he did his job defending AMERICA,I know as a young man I was rebellious and I didn't want dad on my ass,,,even though I was wrong I would see him coming and I knew I could not win I flew, ran, vamoused in the woods of ft Gordon sometimes overnight until dad wentto work amen,anyway he had a bad memory problem, I asked him why he drinked so much,he just say I am in pain everywhere soldiers drink .thoughI knew those woods and areas I never dreamed that our own government would sabatouge its own citizens, dependents ,wifes ,children of the soldiers family's ,while the men fought for freedom. I just found out about this agent orange put down in ft. Gordon My brother told me and I never paid it any ATTENTION until broke it down to me , he is a vietnam vet. thats deadly deadly sickly from agent orange commplications and we know .I have a new passion in life now for agent orange victims because I am sick and never served in the military with the same diesease's Please vets I will help you if you help me We will beat this thing one way or a LAWYER my attorney's with the COCHRAN group love AMERICA to Rev Cleveland Eden,,,,Vernon Eden brother GOD BLESS AMERICA , EMAIL ME