Agent Orange Exposure Among Naval Aviation Veterans of the Vietnam Era

(This article is from the February 2011 Edition of the Compensation and Pension (C & P) Service Bulletin published by the Department of Veterans Affairs. The C & P Service website can be found here – )

During the Vietnam era, most naval aviation units were either carrier based or operated out of Western Pacific locations other than Vietnam, such as Guam or Okinawa. However, some squadrons were based in Vietnam itself or aircraft elements of the squadron rotated in and out of Vietnam for temporary duty. If a Veteran with naval aviation service files an Agent Orange exposure related disability claim based on service in Vietnam, and initial development does not provide evidence to support the required in-country duty or visitation, further development is required to comply with VA’s duty to assist. Further development should include a Personnel Information Exchange System (PIES) O18 request to the National Personnel Records Center (NPRC) for the Veteran’s complete military records and/or a Defense Personnel Records Information Retrieval System (DPRIS) O43 request for unit research to the Army and Joint Services Records Research Center (JSRRC).

An additional resource, which may support the claim and reduce processing time, is the official Navy website: Dictionary of American Naval Aviation Squadrons. This website contains the history of all attack squadrons, designated by the prefix “VA” and all strike fighter squadrons, designated by the prefix “VFA.” The “V” designation is a holdover from the early days of flight and refers to a “heavier than air vehicle.” The histories of other aircraft types are included but most Vietnam era Navy aircraft types are VA or VFA. These histories describe unit locations, including Vietnam in-country rotations. If the Veteran’s unit history shows Vietnam in-country rotation and the Veteran provides a lay statement of personal in-country service, then the presumption of exposure can be acknowledged. This website will be added to the C&P Service Intranet Rating Job Aids link: Vietnam Era Navy Ship Agent Orange Exposure Development Site. In the meantime, the site can be accessed at:

The February 2011 Edition of the C & P Service Bulletin can be found here – C&P Service Bulletin February 2011