Wolf and Brown Secures Service-Connection for Vietnam-Era Veteran

Matthew J. Brown, Esquire, the accredited VA attorney for the Veterans Department at Wolf & Brown, successfully secured a favorable decision and settlement for a Vietnam-era veteran, who has been denied service-connection since 1968.

The crux of the veteran’s appeal was whether he was “boots on the ground,” serving in the Republic of Vietnam, during the war effort, to be an entitlement to the presumption of exposure to herbicide, or more commonly known as Agent Orange. The veteran’s hurdle in proving he served in-country was due to the secret nature of his missions in Vietnam.

The veteran’s military occupational specialty was as a teletype interceptor. He was trained by the National Security Agency, for the purpose of serving with the Army Security Agency, in an effort to support the forces serving in Vietnam.

For historical background, in 1965, the U.S. was concerned about the North Vietnamese Army continued attacks further into the Republic of Vietnam and in response, General Westmoreland recommended combining

the strengths of the Army and Marine forces, together with the support of air and naval forces to support the existing level of U.S. aid.

The need for in-country analysts and equipment was highlighted during Operation Silver Bayonet, wherein the 1st Cavalry Division and Republic of Vietnam forces launched a pursuit operation against two regiments of the North Vietnamese 325th Division. It was learned that a high rate of disclosures of communication frequencies, operational plans, and intelligence formation was being disclosed by the 1st Cavalry themselves; thus, compelling the Joint Chiefs of Staff to order the shipment of all available voice encryption devices to Vietnam to help stem the tide of COMSEC violations.

The 371st RRC, formed by the United States Army Security Agency in 1962, was attached or assigned to the 1st Cavalry Division for most of its life. It is this division that it saw wartime service in the Republic of Vietnam from 1966 to 1971. The unit rosters were filled utilizing temporary duty (TDY) assignments. The reason for not utilizing full-time deployment assignments was fear of exposing installation teams to enemy attack outweighed the intelligence gathered. The mission of the 371st was to provide combat information to the Division Commander in pursuit of his mission. The company served well and faithfully, earning two Presidential Unit Citations, four Meritorious Unit Commendations, and one Valorous Unit Award.

The veteran has a TDY travel from his duty station to the 371st RRC. However, because of the nature of his military occupation code (MOS), his TDY assignment was never recorded, and his in-country service never documented.

Wolf and Brown successfully argued at a hearing before a Veterans Law Judge, that absent direct evidence of in-country service, the veteran has presented substantial, probative, and relevant evidence documenting his association with the United States Army Security Agency (ASA), his training for the documented MOS, relevant testimony supported by the evidence of record, and also corroborative evidence from his family, treating doctors, service records, and historical researcher that tends to prove by a preponderance of the evidence the veteran served in-country and should be extended the presumption of exposure to Agent Orange and recognized for his in-country service.

And in a Board of Veterans Appeals decision dated September 9, 2020, the veteran was rightfully awarded entitlement to the presumption of exposure to Agent Orange, and collaterally entitlement to service-connection for his claimed presumptive conditions.

This case stands out for Wolf and Brown as the veteran, for over 53 years, was “ashamed” to wear any identifiable clothing that he was a service-member and proudly served his country in Vietnam. We are now proudly able to state, with affirmation, the veteran is now recognized by the Veterans Administration as a Vietnam veteran who valiantly served his country.