Citation Nr: 18124032
Decision Date: 08/03/18	Archive Date: 08/03/18

DOCKET NO. 15-12 783
DATE:	August 3, 2018
ORDER
Entitlement to service connection for diabetes mellitus type II due to herbicides is granted.
Entitlement to service connection for Parkinson’s disease due to herbicides is granted.
FINDINGS OF FACT
1. Affording the Veteran the benefit of the doubt, based on his statements and their consistency with the available records, the Veteran is presumed exposed to herbicides in Korat, Thailand during the Vietnam era.
2. The Veteran has a current diagnosis of diabetes mellitus type II and Parkinson’s disease.
CONCLUSIONS OF LAW
1. Resolving reasonable doubt in the Veteran’s favor, diabetes mellitus type II was incurred as a result of service.  38 U.S.C. §§ 1101, 1110, 1113, 1116, 5107(b) (2012); 38 C.F.R. §§ 3.102, 3.303, 3.304, 3.307, 3.309 (2017).
2. Resolving reasonable doubt in the Veteran’s favor, Parkinson’s disease was incurred as a result of service.  38 U.S.C. §§ 1101, 1110, 1113, 1116, 5107(b) (2012); 38 C.F.R. §§ 3.102, 3.303, 3.304, 3.307, 3.309 (2017).
REASONS AND BASES FOR FINDINGS AND CONCLUSIONS
The Veteran served on active duty from March 1965 to January 1991.  
This matter is before the Board of Veterans’ Appeals (Board) on appeal of a September 2013 rating decision of the Reno, Nevada, Regional Office (RO) of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). 
Service Connection
1. Entitlement to service connection for diabetes mellitus type II due to herbicides is granted.
2. Entitlement to service connection for Parkinson’s disease due to herbicides is granted.
Duties to Notify and Assist
The Veteran Claims Assistance Act of 2000 (VCAA), in part, describes VA’s duties to notify and assist a claimant in substantiating a claim for VA benefits.  38 U.S.C. §§ 5100, 5102, 5103, 5103A, 5106, 5107, 5126 (2012); 38 C.F.R. §§ 3.102, 3.156(a), 3.159, 3.326(a) (2017).  Given the favorable outcome in this decision that represents a full grant of these issues, further explanation of how VA has fulfilled the duties to notify and assist is not necessary.
Legal Criteria for Service Connection
Pertinent VA law and regulations provide that service connection may be granted for a disability resulting from disease or injury incurred in or aggravated by service. 38 U.S.C. §§ 1110, 1131 (2012); 38 C.F.R. § 3.303 (2017).  Generally, this requires (1) the existence of a present disability; (2) in-service incurrence or aggravation of a disease or injury; and (3) a causal relationship between the present disability and the disease or injury incurred or aggravated during service.  Shedden v. Principi, 381 F.3d 1163, 1167 (Fed. Cir. 2004); 38 C.F.R. § 3.303(d).  
Alternatively, service connection may be established either by showing that a chronic disability or disease was incurred during service and later manifestations of such chronic disability or disease are not due to intercurrent cause(s) or that a disorder or disease was incurred during service and there is evidence of continuity of symptomatology which supports a finding of chronicity since service.  38 C.F.R. § 3.303(b).  When a chronic disease becomes manifest to a degree of 10 percent within one year of a veteran’s discharge from service, such disease shall be presumed to have been incurred in service, even though there is no evidence of such disease during the veteran’s period of service.  38 U.S.C. § 1112 (2012); 38 C.F.R. §§ 3.307, 3.309 (2017).  
VA laws and regulations provide that, if a Veteran was exposed to Agent Orange during service, certain listed diseases are presumptively service-connected if they manifest to a compensable degree at any time after service.  38 U.S.C. § 1116(a)(1); 38 C.F.R. § 3.307(a).  Diabetes mellitus type II and Parkinson’s disease are listed among the diseases presumed to be associated with Agent Orange exposure.  38 U.S.C. § 1116(a)(2)(H); 38 C.F.R. § 3.309(e).  
The Veteran has claimed exposure to herbicides while stationed in Thailand.  VA procedures for verifying exposure to herbicides in Thailand during the Vietnam Era are detailed in the VBA Adjudication Manual, M21-1, IV.ii.2.C.  VA has determined that there was significant use of herbicides on the fenced-in perimeters of military bases in Thailand intended to eliminate vegetation and ground cover for base security purposes as evidenced in a declassified Vietnam era Department of Defense document titled “Project CHECO Southeast Asia Report: Base Defense in Thailand.”  Special consideration of herbicide exposure on a facts-found or direct basis should be extended to those Veterans whose duties placed them on or near the perimeters of Thailand military bases.  This allows for presumptive service connection of the diseases associated with herbicide exposure. 
The majority of troops in Thailand during the Vietnam Era were stationed at the Royal Thai Air Force Bases of U-Tapao, Ubon, Nakhon Phanom, Udorn, Takhli, Korat, and Don Muang.  If a veteran served on one of these air bases as a security policeman, security patrol dog handler, member of a security police squadron, or otherwise served near the air base perimeter, as shown by MOS (military occupational specialty), performance evaluations, or other credible evidence, then herbicide exposure should be acknowledged on a facts-found or direct basis.  This applies to the Vietnam Era, from February 28, 1961, to May 7, 1975.  See M21-1, M21-1, IV.ii.1.H.5.b.
When there is an approximate balance of positive and negative evidence regarding the merits of an issue material to the determination of the matter, the benefit of the doubt in resolving each such issue shall be given to the claimant.  38 U.S.C. § 5107(b) (2012).
Merits of Diabetes Mellitus Type II and Parkinson’s Disease Claims
A March 2015 VA memo states that the Veteran’s Military Personnel Records confirm the Veteran’s military specialty was 30170, Aircraft Radio Technician, and he was stationed at Korat Royal Thai Air Force Base (RTAFB) from November 1970 to October 1971.  Military personnel records in the claims file support these facts.
During the Veteran’s April 2018 Board hearing, the Veteran credibly testified that he served in Korat Air Base, Thailand.  He stated he was an Aircraft Radio Repairman.  He stated he worked on the flight line which is at the perimeter of the airbase.  He also stated he lived, ate, and worked within the draft zone.
The Board credits the Veteran’s statements and gives the Veteran the benefit of the doubt in finding that his service included the air base perimeter.  The Veteran’s statements are consistent with the evidence of record.
As such, the Board finds that the Veteran served near the air base perimeter in Korat, Thailand during the Vietnam era.  Herbicide exposure is conceded on this basis.  See M21-1, M21-1, IV.ii.1.H.5.b.
VA treatment records confirm that the Veteran has a current diagnosis of diabetes mellitus type II and Parkinson’s Disease.  Based on the finding of in-service exposure to herbicides, diabetes mellitus type II and Parkinson’s Disease are presumed to have been incurred in service.  38 C.F.R. §§ 3.307, 3.309 (2017).  Service connection for diabetes mellitus type II and Parkinson’s Disease therefore has been established.  38 U.S.C. § 5107 (b) (2012); 38 C.F.R. § 3.102 (2017).

 
KRISTI L. GUNN
Veterans Law Judge
Board of Veterans’ Appeals
ATTORNEY FOR THE BOARD	K. M. Georgiev 

For A Complete Guide To VA Disability Claims and to find out more about your potential VA disability case and how to obtain favorable VA Rating Decision! Visit: VA-Claims.org

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