From their graves, voices of Tampa Bay veterans exposed to herbicides are heard in Washington

8 On Your Side

Veterans group asks Congress to expand benefits to those who served on Guam and in Thailand

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – Stories shared by two Tampa Bay area veterans cast great doubt on the military’s claim that it did not spray the toxic defoliant, Agent Orange on Guam.

When those two Veterans died, their stories shared by 8 On Your Side inspired others to take their fight to Congress.

So the calls on Congressional offices continue.

According to former Marine Brian Moyer, a bill providing benefits to veterans exposed to toxic herbicides while serving on Guam now has 85 co-sponsors in the House.

“The past two days we’ve been working the Senate side of the bill,” said Moyer who is working with Military Veterans Advocacy to expand benefits to Veterans of Guam and Thailand.

Contamination on Guam became a hot issue 3 years ago when from a wheelchair in his Lakeland home, Air Force Veteran Leroy Foster tearfully confessed he sprayed hundreds of thousands of gallons of Agent Orange around U-S military bases there, exposing tens of thousands of service members and their families.

“I was spraying the most deadliest substance on earth and I am responsible for it,” Foster stated. Leroy Foster suffered from scores of illnesses before he died in 2018.

Navy Veteran Lonnie Kilpatrick of Pasco County was also based on Guam. Lonnie worked in top-secret electronic warfare and was exposed to the toxic defoliant.

“After they sprayed, it just turned a burnt orange,” Kilpatrick said. “Made everything dusty. Everything died, it was that quick.”

Agent Orange produces the powerful toxic dioxin linked to 14 illnesses, many of them are deadly.

2 years ago, from his death bed, Kilpatrick lamented that the VA denied his claim for Agent Orange benefits. The Department of Defense denied spraying it on Guam.

8 On Your Side asked Rep. Gus Bilirakis (R)-Fla to get involved. Congressman Bilirakis convinced the D-O-D to open Lonnie’s classified file.

“It was definitely clear that he worked in a particular area where Agent Orange was definitely sprayed,” Representative Bilirakis said.

The VA awarded Lonnie Kilpatrick health care and disability benefits. He died weeks later.

Brian Moyer traveled to Guam last year to gather evidence for the bill named after Lonnie. He showed the Environmental Protection Agency where spraying occurred.

“I had a phone call from contact with us, EPA and told me they got positive detections for dioxin at all locations that we went to,” Brian Moyer said.

Moyer expects an official report from the EPA later this spring. By then he hopes he will have support from some Republicans in the Senate.

If you know of something that you think should be investigated call our 8 On Your Side Helpline at 1 800 338-0808.

Contact Steve Andrews at sandrews@wfla.com

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