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Veterans who served in Thailand look to Congress for help with the VA

8 On Your Side

Support for change VA restrictions is strong in Florida

TAMPA (WFLA)- U.S. veterans who served in Thailand contend they were sprayed then betrayed.

Many of those vets say they’ve suffered exposure to a poisonous herbicide called Agent Orange that was widely used on military bases during the Vietnam War.

Though these veterans who served in Thailand are battling the same list of diseases associated with this herbicide as those who went to Vietnam, the rules are different for them.

During the war, Dan Tolly of Tampa, assembled missiles near the perimeter of Ubon Air Force Base in Thailand.

The VA told Dan Tolly that Agent Orange wasn’t used in Thailand.

“There was not a stick of anything growing there,” recalled Dan.

That’s because the military sprayed Agent Orange.

The concoction of acids is linked to heart disease and cancers.

Paul DeVane, also of Tampa, repaired navigation equipment near the perimeter of Korat Air Force Base.

Paul DeVane remembers being sprayed with Agent Orange at Korat A.F.B.

“They sprayed and if you were in the area you got sprayed too,” Paul said.

Both Paul and Dan later developed cancers and heart disease, conditions tied to Agent Orange exposure.

If they had served in Vietnam, where exposure is presumed, they would automatically qualify for disability benefits.

However, the VA requires Thailand vets like Dan and Paul, prove they worked in or near sprayed areas.

A bill in Congress would change that, if passed.

HR2201 basically states if you were in Thailand, you were exposed.

What sort of backing does this legislation have?

I tracked down several members of the Florida Congressional delegation to find out where they stand.

Congressman Gus Bilirakis told me, he wasn’t even aware of the bill.

“No I’ll look into it,” he stated.

Congressmen Vern Buchanan, Charlie Crist, Daniel Webster, and Darren Soto, support the bill.

After I contacted her office, Representative Kathy Castor committed to cosponsor the legislation.

Congressmen Ross Spano and Greg Stuebe are uncommitted.

Representative Francis Rooney was unresponsive.

U.S. Senator Marco Rubio will support the Senate version of the bill.

Senator Rick Scott is uncommitted.

Congressman Bilirakis promised to look into it.

Later that evening, I got a text from his office.

It said, “Gus reviewed the legislation and he is going to co-sponsor.”

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

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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