HUDSON, Fla. (WFLA) — Nearly a year ago, a Board of Veterans Appeals judge told 69-year-old Air Force Veteran Bill Davis of Hudson that he needed a letter from a doctor stating his illnesses are service-related.
He received two. But what he hasn’t received is a decision from that judge about his claim for disability benefits.
In 1972, the Air Force shipped Davis, then just 21 years old, to Nakhon Phanom Air Base in Thailand.
Davis maintained OV-10s, fighters designed to photograph the enemy, destroy them or call in airstrikes.
“When I was in there, I gave them everything I had,” he explained.
When and if the time came, Davis only hoped the government would do the same for him.
Davis followed orders. He never asked about a weed killer sprayed on the flight line where he worked and the nearby base perimeter.
“At that point in time, everyday, I was on that flight line, I was exposed to Agent Orange,” he claimed.
He never questioned – until his lungs later filled with tumors – cleaning fighter jet engine parts with Trichloroethylene.
“You filled the sink up with it and then you stuck your hands in there to move the parts around,” he recalled.
And never for a minute did Davis consider that when the Air Force sent the OV-10s, along with Davis, to Tan Son Nhut Air Base in Saigon, it would be left off his military record.
In 2012, Davis connected the dots linking Agent Orange and carcinogenic cleaners to his heart disease and Sarcoidosis of the lungs. The VA said none of that is service-connected.
“I put a claim in and they denied it,” Davis said.
The VA even told him with no record of him in Vietnam, he wasn’t exposed to Agent Orange.
“They just disgrace you,” he explained.
For seven years, he’s dueled with the VA over benefits he believes he deserves.
Records from Air Force archives show in late 1972, Davis’ 23rd Tactical Support Squadron was sent to a forward operating location, Tan Son Nhut, Saigon.
More records show he received hostile fire pay during that same time period, something he didn’t get in Thailand.
A VA Board of Appeals judge wanted more – a letter from a doctor stating Davis’ illnesses were likely service-connected.
Davis got two.
For a year, he’s waited in limbo. But he learned Friday that evidence has not even been reviewed, nor is there any time limit for the BVA to sit down and make a decision on his case.
“Can you please just give me an answer, you know? It’s almost eight years next month,” Davis stated.
Steve Andrews reached out to the BVA in Washington, D.C. and asked that it at least give Bill Davis some sort of update. He also contacted Congressman Gus Bilirakis’ office. The congressman personally called Thursday night promising to get involved, get some answers and hopefully get this veteran his benefits.
If you know of something that needs to be investigated, call our 8 On Your Side Helpline at 1-800 338-0808 or contact Steve Andrews as firstname.lastname@example.org
LATEST FROM 8 ON YOUR SIDE
- Economic strain, social distancing create uncertain outlook for holiday shopping season in Tampa Bay
- Mysterious medical braces delivered to Tampa Bay seniors, charged to Medicare
- What happens to federal jobless benefits caught in FL DEO backlog when CARES Act expires in weeks?
- Order allowing Florida nursing home residents to leave for Thanksgiving sparks concern among advocates
- Florida remains business-as-usual while virus surge creates new wave of restrictions nationwide