HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) — The cost of the Vietnam War continues to climb, 42 years after it ended.
Bill Smith of Thonotosassa is now on the casualty list. “The diabetes was caused by Agent Orange, I guess, and my throat cancer also was caused by Agent Orange,” the veteran said.
Bill received a letter, informing him the Department of Veterans Affairs had finally awarded him Agent Orange benefits, but it took a skirmish or two to get his compensation.
Bill reached out to me after seeing a report I had done about another veteran Richard Mattmann. Like Richard, Bill had also served at the U-Tapao Air Force base in Thailand in 1967.
As a munitions specialist, Bill assembled bombs that were dropped on Vietnam. For 12 hours a day, six days a week, both men were confined to the base perimeter, which was heavily sprayed with the toxic defoliant Agent Orange.
“I didn’t know at that time that Agent Orange was used in Thailand until we found out from Channel 8,” Bill said.
Just like Richard, Bill developed a string of health issues, including cancer, and received a similar response from the VA as others who served in Thailand.
“They said they wouldn’t check me because I wasn’t stationed in Vietnam itself,” Bill recalled.
Richard was granted Agent Orange benefits immediately after our report aired.
“Well I figured maybe I do have a chance now,” said Bill.
I reached out to the VA and requested they take another look at Bill’s records.
The day after his birthday, he got the letter. “I wouldn’t have got that if it hadn’t been for you sending the thing in from last time I talked to you,” Bill said.
He now receives a monthly disability check and health benefits from the VA that he didn’t receive before.
“I really thank you for what you all did,” said Bill.\
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.