YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – A Youngstown man believes he deserves benefits after being exposed to Agent Orange during the Vietnam War.
Seventy-four-year-old Fred Marshall has been dealing with Veterans Affairs for nearly 10 years. After first applying, then being denied, he will finally get a hearing on March 2.
He believes his Parkinson’s disease, type 2 diabetes, hearing loss, hypertension and heart issues are all because of his exposure to Agent Orange. He has also had two heart attacks.
“They sprayed the whole base. We used to stand there and watch them overhead spraying,” he said.
Marshall spent four years as a crew chief in the Air Force, partly at air bases in Thailand, of which he has an album filled with pictures, some of himself. He also has a picture of what the airplanes looked like while spraying Agent Orange.
“But in 1969, they found that Agent Orange was toxic to humans,” he said.
Marshall has a binder that’s thick with papers tracking his efforts to get Agent Orange benefits.
He first filed with Veterans Affairs nine years ago. Two years later, he was denied because of what’s known as the “perimeter rule,” where, after 1972, Agent Orange was only allowed to be sprayed around the perimeter of an area.
Marshall says in the case of veterans who served in Thailand, except for those in security, the VA grandfathered the perimeter rule back to 1964.
“Which is illegal, but they’re doing it,” he said.
He even wrote a letter to former President Donald Trump and his wife, which the VA acknowledged in a response. He thinks it was the letter to the former president that finally got him a hearing.
“There are thousands of veterans that they have turned down because of this perimeter rule. I would like to get this overturned for the benefit of all the veterans that have been denied,” he said.
Marshall says seven years ago, government doctors in Cleveland decided his health issues were caused by his exposure to Agent Orange. He has nine of the 11 health issues associated with Agent Orange exposure.
He claims the VA owes him $250,000 in back benefits and then should pay him $2,000 a month, along with free health care.