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Veteran frustrated by denied Agent Orange exposure claims

Posted at 4:58 PM, Feb 08, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-08 21:35:02-05

CORPUS CHRISTI, TEXAS — While Robert Walton didn’t fight in Southeast Asia, his unit served a very important mission. Ever since he came home, he’s been fighting for his life, and says he’s gotten very little help from the Department of Veterans Affairs.

“I can’t seem to get anyone to listen to what I try to tell them,” said Walton.

Walton served in the U.S. Air Force from 1969-73. He was stationed in Thailand, working on camera systems carried aboard F-4 aircraft. He says that’s where he was exposed to Agent Orange.

“This stuff ran down into the flight line where we worked,” said Walton. “We were around the airplanes, we got the dioxin from the Agent Orange around the aircraft, on my camera system.”

The U.S. military used Agent Orange as a herbicide in Southeast Asia from 1962 to 1971. As the years have passed, Agent Orange has been linked to several health problems, including ischemic heart disease, which Walton has been diagnosed with.

Walton says he was told his early claims were denied because he was in Thailand and not Vietnam.

“I have a letter from the Air Force stating they never used herbicides in Thailand, which everybody knows that’s not true,” Walton said.

In 2010, the VA acknowledged Agent Orange use in Thailand and made service members stationed there eligible for compensation. Despite that, Walton’s claims have still been denied.

“Somebody doesn’t seem to be doing their job because the law was written and it doesn’t seem like it’s being paid attention to,” said Walton.

Walton says he’s reached out to U.S. Representatives as well Senators Ted Cruz and John Cornyn for help to no avail.

His last hearing with a VA Decision Review Officer was in 2015, he didn’t get a response until 2018. Another denial. Walton hopes something can be done before it’s too late.

“I’m just a veteran, I’m honorably discharged, I served my country well and I don’t think a veteran should be treated like this,” said Walton.

Walton says he has noting but respect for the doctors who have treated him at the VA; it’s the administrators who keep denying his claim that he has an issue with.