Citation Nr: 18160352
Decision Date: 12/27/18	Archive Date: 12/26/18

DOCKET NO. 16-52 482
DATE:	December 27, 2018
ORDER
Entitlement to service connection for prostate cancer secondary to herbicide exposure is granted.
Entitlement to service connection for diabetes mellitus secondary to herbicide exposure is granted.
Entitlement to Parkinson's disease secondary to herbicide exposure is granted.
FINDINGS OF FACT
1. The Veteran’s prostate cancer is presumed to be related to Agent Orange exposure during his active military service at U-Tapao Thailand; he has submitted evidence indicating that his job duties placed him near the air base perimeter.
2. The Veteran’s diabetes mellitus is presumed to be related to Agent Orange exposure during his active military service at U-Tapao Thailand; he has submitted evidence indicating that his job duties placed him near the air base perimeter.
3. The Veteran’s Parkinson’s disease is presumed to be related to Agent Orange exposure during his active military service at U-Tapao Thailand; he has submitted evidence indicating that his job duties placed him near the air base perimeter.
CONCLUSIONS OF LAW
1. The criteria for entitlement to service connection for prostate cancer as secondary to herbicide exposure have been met.  38 U.S.C. §§ 1110, 1112, 1113, 1116, 1131, 5103, 5103A, 5107 (2012); 38 C.F.R. §§ 3.102, 3.159, 3.303, 3.307, 3.309 (2018).
2. The criteria for entitlement to service connection for diabetes mellitus as secondary to herbicide exposure have been met.  38 U.S.C. §§ 1110, 1112, 1113, 1116, 1131, 5103, 5103A, 5107; 38 C.F.R. §§ 3.102, 3.159, 3.303, 3.307, 3.309.
3. The criteria for entitlement to Parkinson's disease secondary to herbicide exposure have been met.  38 U.S.C. §§ 1110, 1112, 1113, 1116, 1131, 5103, 5103A, 5107; 38 C.F.R. §§ 3.102, 3.159, 3.303, 3.307, 3.309.
REASONS AND BASES FOR FINDINGS AND CONCLUSIONS
The Veteran had active duty service from October 1965 to October 1968.  He testified before the undersigned Veterans Law Judge at a Travel Board hearing in May 2018.  A transcript of the hearing has been associated with the claims file.
1. Entitlement to service connection for prostate cancer secondary to herbicide exposure.
2. Entitlement to service connection for diabetes mellitus secondary to herbicide exposure.
3. Entitlement to Parkinson’s disease secondary to herbicide exposure.
The Veteran contends that service connection is warranted for his prostate cancer, diabetes mellitus, and Parkinson’s disease, because he was exposed to herbicides (Agent Orange) while stationed at U-Tapao, Thailand.  He served at U-Tapao Royal Thai Navy Air Base from July 1967 to July 1968 with the 4258th Munitions Maintenance Squadron.  He described his duties as:
I served on the B-52 flight lines.  Most of the aircrafts were on the east side of the air base.  Others were parked on the west side of the airbase.  I also served, worked in preload and the rack servicing and maintenance.  And I also worked on aircraft release systems.  So, my job duties took me throughout the preload area, working on the rack systems and out on the flight line, working on aircraft release systems.  And, my living conditions, I lived in a concrete barracks on the west side of the base, right adjacent to the west side perimeter.  Concrete barracks, open windows, no air conditioning.  I would travel from the barracks area to the east side, went around the north side of the airport on the perimeter road . . .  Four times a day I traveled on that road, from the barracks to the work area, from the work area back to the barracks area for meals, because there was no food on the east side at the time.  So, four trips a day, six days a week, for one year.
Service connection will be granted for disability arising from disease or injury incurred in or aggravated by active service.  38 U.S.C. § 1110; 38 C.F.R § 3.303(a).  Service connection may be granted for any disease diagnosed after discharge, when all the evidence, including that pertinent to service, establishes that the disease was incurred in service.  38 C.F.R. § 3.303(d).  Service connection generally requires (1) medical evidence of a current disability; (2) medical or, in certain circumstances, lay evidence of in-service incurrence or aggravation of a disease or injury; and (3) medical evidence of a nexus between the claimed in-service disease or injury and the current disability.  Shedden v. Principi, 381 F.3d 1163, 1167 (Fed. Cir. 2004). 
Where a veteran was exposed to an herbicide agent during active military, naval, or air service and, in this case, when diabetes mellitus, Parkinson’s disease, and prostate cancer becomes manifest to a degree of 10 percent or more at any time after service, service connection shall be established for such disability if the requirements of 38 C.F.R. § 3.307(a)(6) are met even though there is no record of such disease during service, provided that the rebuttable presumption provisions of 38 C.F.R. § 3.307(d) are also satisfied.  38 U.S.C. § 1116; 38 C.F.R. § 3.309(e). 
Special consideration of herbicide agent exposure on a factual basis should be extended to Air Force veterans whose duties placed them on or near the perimeters of certain RTAFBs anytime between February 28, 1961, and May 7, 1975.  The listed Thai military facilities include U-Tapao Royal Thai Air Force Base.  If a veteran’s military duties, as shown by evidence of daily work duties, performance evaluation reports, or other credible evidence, placed him or her near the air base perimeter, then VA is to concede herbicide agent exposure on a direct or facts found basis.  
The evidence of record establishes that the Veteran has current diagnoses of diabetes mellitus, Parkinson’s disease, and prostate cancer.  In addition, all of these three disabilities are presumptive disabilities.  As such, if it can be shown on a facts-found basis that the Veteran was actually exposed to herbicides during his service in Thailand, these disabilities will be presumptively service-connected without any need for any additional “nexus” evidence.
Thus, the issue before the Board is whether the Veteran has provided credible evidence of actual herbicide exposure.  In order to do this, the Veteran must show that his Air Force duties placed him on or near the perimeters of the U-Tapao Royal Thai Air Force Base.  His service personnel records clearly document that he had service at the U-Tapao Air Force Base from July 1967 to July 1968. 
First, the Board stresses that, according to the CHECO Report, tactical herbicides on allied bases were not used; however, sporadic use of non-tactical (commercial) herbicides were used within fenced perimeters.  This is why if a Veteran’s MOS or unit is one that regularly had contact with the base perimeter, there was a greater likelihood of exposure to commercial pesticides, including herbicides.  Put differently, if a Veteran did not regularly have contact with the perimeter, it is less likely than not that he was exposed to herbicides.
In support of his appeal, the Veteran has submitted performance evaluation reports showing that he had several duties while stationed at U-Tapao; he has also shown pictures and provided lay testimony that he had to travel by vehicle on the perimeter road around the north end of the runway in order to eat.  He also submitted photographic evidence of him at the aircraft parking ramp on the external pylons doing maintenance.
When resolving all reasonable doubt in the Veteran’s favor, the Board finds that the Veteran has provided credible evidence that he was exposed to herbicides during his active duty service at the U-Tapao Air Force Based in Thailand.  As noted above, he has diagnoses of Parkinson’s disease, diabetes mellitus, and prostate cancer, all of which are presumed to be due to the in-service exposure.  Importantly, this decision is based upon the unique facts and circumstances of this Veteran’s military service.  
Based on these specific facts, the Board concludes that service connection is warranted for those disabilities.
 
H.M. WALKER
Veterans Law Judge
Board of Veterans’ Appeals
ATTORNEY FOR THE BOARD	Martha R. Luboch, Associate Counsel 

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