A local Navy veteran’s win may prove to be a blockbuster triumph for veterans who served in Guam.

Following a series of Target 8 reports, the Department of Veterans Affairs reversed its previous decision and approved Agent Orange benefits to Lonnie Kilpatrick of Holiday. 

Lonnie was diagnosed with Ischemic heart disease, a condition often resulting from exposure to Agent Orange. The Kilpatricks believe Lonnie was exposed to the toxic defoliant while serving in Guam during the Vietnam War.  The family has waited eight years for the VA to decide whether exposure to Agent Orange destroyed Lonnie’s heart. Earlier this month, the agency denied his claim for Agent Orange disability benefits.  

After we reported the VA rejected his claim, Congressman Bilirakis got involved and requested the Department of Defense’s VA liaison declassify Lonnie’s military records, which they did.

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

Brian Moyer, a former Marine who is now the head of Agent Orange Survivors of Guam estimates tens of thousands of veterans, as well as their spouses and children, may have been exposed to Agent Orange while they were stationed in Guam.  

“This is America’s Chernobyl,” Moyer said. “We’ve got solid evidence. I mean, come on, if this were a murder trial people would be going to prison.” 

Mr. Moyer showed us a U.S. Navy Land Use Plan to dispose of or reuse surplus property.  The plan notes that until 1980, the herbicide, 2-4-5 T, a component of Agent Orange, was used for weed control along power lines and power substations. The herbicide, which is now banned, is linked to miscarriages, birth defects and cancer.

Mr. Moyer is accusing the government of a coverup.

“If they acknowledge us, that means they’re going to have to acknowledge all of those people that live on Guam, the private citizens.  I think they’re terrified of that,” Mr. Moyer explained.

“I really do believe that they hope you die so that the claim dies with you,” stated Lonnie’s wife, Sheila Kilpatrrick. 

Mrs. Kilpatrick hopes Lonnie’s victory opens the door for other Guam veterans before it is too late.

Lonnie Kilpatrick is currently in the hospital battling stage 4 kidney cancer, which doctors at the VA hospital in Bay Pines failed to detect.

If you have something that you think should be investigated, call our Target 8 Helpline at 1-800-338-0808 or contact Steve Andrews at sandrews@wfla.com.