Agent Orange Exposure"Project Ranch Hand" was the name of the jungle defoliating operation that took place over much of Vietnam between 1962 and 1971. Visit the VA web site for a list of diseases related to Agent Orange (dioxin) exposure. Monsoon rains washed AO into the rivers where Washtenaw served. There were times when river water was used for showers because the ship's evaporators could not make enough fresh water, and certainly for general cleaning purposes (swabbing the decks). This may help with obtaining VA coverage in the future (this is now reality - see the January 2010 VA Compensation and Pension Service Bulletin note below).
Gary Williamson, who served as an officer aboard Washtenaw in the early 70's, has offered to help crew members receive VA benefits for agent orange exposure problems. He has a AO service connected disability rating, and can offer tips on how to deal with the VA in submitting your own claim. See the official list of AO disorders linked in the above paragraph, as 3 new diseases have been recently added.
According to the January 2010 VA Compensation and Pension Service Bulletin, crew members who served aboard any LST in Vietnam are now presumed to have been exposed to Agent Orange. What this means is you are now entitled to check the Agent Orange box (Section IV F) on the 1010EZ form when applying for VA health care coverage, and you should be in the door even if your income or assets are above the specified limits. It should also mean it will be easier to obtain benefits for Agent Orange related claims you may have!