Ever since the Agent Orange Act of 1991, the VA has recognized that service members’ exposure to Agent Orange and other herbicides, defoliants, and dioxins was likely to lead to a handful of diagnosable conditions later on in the Veteran’s life. These conditions include, among others, Coronary Artery Disease, Diabetes Mellitus Type II, and various forms of cancer. However, the VA has only recognized presumptive exposure to the Agent Orange for those Veterans that were boots on the ground in Vietnam or the surrounding waterways, as well as select locations in the Vietnam Theatre of war. However, it is well documented that Agent Orange was also stored stateside in a number of states. In fact, these substances were stored in mass quantities at the Naval Construction Battalion Center (NCBC) in Gulfport, Mississippi, known as the SeaBee Base.
The Department of Defense has released a memorandum detailing various areas within the United States where they concede that these herbicides were either used or stored. Among those bases are Eglin Air Force Base in Ft. Walton Beach, Florida, Kelly Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas, and the NCBC base in Gulfport, Mississippi.
During operation Ranch Hand, the Unites States military used herbicides to clear the foliage in Vietnam, thereby removing the Vietcong’s ability to conceal themselves and provide food for themselves. The use of these herbicides was quickly determined to have negative health effects that would last generations and the use of the herbicides was discontinued. The United States military collected all of the Agent Orange and stored 15,480 drums of Agent Orange in the redrumming facility at the SeaBee Base in Gulfport. This storage took place from May 24, 1977 through June 10, 1977. The drumheads were removed and herbicide was sucked through intake hoses into tank railcars. Rail cars were then moved to the docks where the herbicide was transferred to the Vulcanus for incineration. The incineration occurred in the middle of the Pacific on an island called the Johnston Atoll. However, the storage of the vast amount of Agent Orange at the SeaBea base likely tainted the grounds for generations to come.
While the VA has not yet recognized presumptive exposure to Agent Orange while serving at the SeaBee base in Gulfport, Veterans have long claimed that they were exposed. Direct service connection is still available even if not given on a presumptive basis. We have had success in helping our clients get service connection for conditions that arose from exposure to Agent Orange at the SeaBee base. If you served at the SeaBee base in Gulfport, Mississippi and now have one of the presumptive diagnoses related to Agent Orange exposure, contact one of the experienced attorneys at Gardberg and Kemmerly for a free case evaluation. We would love the opportunity to assist you in getting the benefits you deserve. If you need help with a disability claim, call our office at 251-343-1111 or 1-800-332-1529 for a free consultation. Gardberg and Kemmerly is proud to serve Veterans across the country from our home office in Mobile, Alabama. We would love an opportunity to discuss your claim.