Marine Veterans Fight for VA Disability Compensation and Health Care
“Nolite te Bastardes Carborundorum”
Thousands of Marines served at MCAS El Toro, CA, over it 56 years history. None of them were informed by the government of the risks of toxic exposure from contaminants on the former airfield. The government determined that El Toro was “an indeterminate public health hazard.” Records were not maintained or simply trashed. The evidence of contamination is in the soil, groundwater, the aquifer and the bodies of those who worked and served at El Toro.
(IRVINE, CA) – Marine Corps Air Station El Toro, CA, was once the premier Marine Corps fighter base. The government closed El Toro in July 1999 without any thought of the impact of toxic chemicals on the thousands of Marines and their dependents who served on the base over 56 years. The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) in March 1991 paid a visit to El Toro as part of the requirement to conduct a public health assessment of the Superfund site. ATSDR reported that El Toro represented “an indeterminate public health hazard because of the limited amount of on-station data available on environmental contamination and human exposures.” Their conclusion was the environmental contamination at El Toro was for the most part not intentional but incidental to the industrial practices followed to support military operations. If this were an algorithm, there was no factor for the toxic effects of exposure on Marines and their dependents. We just didn’t matter.
The beginning of the end for El Toro began in 1944 with the decision to construct two huge maintenance hangars, each over 200,000 square feet in area, only a stone’s throw from the base’s wells and directly over the aquifer that supplied water to Orange County. Trichloroethylene (TCE) used to degrease aircraft from these two hangars formed a major TCE plume spreading off base into Orange County for miles. The base’s motor pool was in this area and used TCE, too. TCE is a human carcinogen.
Benzene is part of the toxic plume. Benzene is a natural constituent of crude oil and is one of the elementary petrochemicals. Benzene is a colorless and highly flammable liquid with a sweet smell, and is responsible for the aroma around gas stations. It is used primarily as a precursor to the manufacture of chemicals with more complex structure, such as ethylbenzene and cumene, of which billions of kilograms are produced. As benzene has a high octane number, it is an important component of gasoline. Benzene is a human carcinogen.
Benzene has been used since the 1800s for many purposes, so there is considerable evidence about its behavior and its ability to harm people. It can evaporate quickly, changing from its liquid form in gasoline into a gaseous form. Benzene is an ingredient in fuels and other products, and was recognized decades ago as being very dangerous. The fact that DOD admitted it was a contaminant at Camp Lejeune is not surprising, nor is the fact that it has been found at military bases across the US where investigations have uncovered chemical contamination in soil and water. It is a fuel ingredient of great concern and the gas capture systems on most gas pumps are designed to prevent benzene (and other chemicals) from leaking out of the tank during pumping. Air in the vicinity of gasoline is likely contaminated with benzene, due to its quick movement into the air.
It didn’t help that the base cleaners were near the wells, too. PCE was the cleaning agent used by the cleaners and found its way into the aquifer, too. PCE is a human carcinogen.
TCE over the base wells exceeded 500 ug/L or over 100 times the EPA acceptable level. The Navy estimated 8,000 pounds of TCE and other organic solvents in ground in the Southwest quadrant, the location of the base wells. A consulting engineering firm hired by the City of Irvine estimated 700,000 pounds. The Navy disputed the higher number. What is known is a toxic plume of TCE and other contaminants spreads for miles off of El Toro in the aquifer into Orange County’s principal aquifer, the source of water for millions.
The Navy is a participant in the El Toro Groundwater Remediation Project, which is designed to clean up the TCE plume. This project began full operation in January 2007 and pumps water from the plume of TCE contamination. Following treatment to remove the TCE, this water is used only for non-drinking purposes. The cleanup of the plume is expected to take approximately 40 years.
El Toro veterans reported in numerous emails to Salem-News that TCE continued to be used into the 1990s, long after its use was prohibited. TCE was just too good of an organic solvent. Fifty-five-gallon drums of TCE waste were buried by Public Works personnel on the base to hide them from the Marine Corps Inspector General. Despite denials by both the Navy and EPA, there’s evidence that well screens were opened in the contaminated aquifer (shallow groundwater unit or SGU), allowing TCE and other toxic chemicals into the water distribution system.
No matter how the government spins it, there was not enough water from the early purchase of municipal water (1951) to meet the demand for water and even with the later municipal water services contract (1969) when there was enough water to abandon the base wells (if the contract was fully exercised by the government), an El Toro water distribution engineering drawing from 1976 shows the base wells secured to the water distribution system.
After the Orange County Water District found TCE contaminated wells on and off the base in 1985, the very next year, El Toro paid and A&E firm to redraw the entire set of water distribution drawings. With that ‘magic’, the base wells disappeared from the engineering drawings. There are no sets of engineering drawings prior to 1986. Those who did this should know that the deliberate destruction of records on an EPA Superfund site is a felony.
The Navy and EPA ignored well screens opened in the contaminated aquifer; There is no explanation for the purchases of municipal water in 1951 and 1969 when there was no known shortage of free water in the aquifer under the base or the decades of missing water distribution engineering drawings and the original well construction drawings.
Exposure to well water contaminated with organic solvents like TCE, TCA, PCE, DCE, VC, benzene can cause serious disease, including cancer. The delay in the onset of cancer could take decades and be almost impossible to trace to military service. Marines who had direct contact with toxic chemicals without face masks and protective clothing were at risk for toxic exposure through inhalation and dermal contact. Others who drank, cooked and showered were exposed to contaminated well water, too. This was not a ‘pretty picture’ and not one that any of us envisioned when taking the oath of enlistment.
Without evidence of cancer or other serious medical conditions in their military service records, Marine and Navy veterans need a medical nexus opinion linking their current medical condition to military service. This is easier said than done. Most doctors do not want to become involved with writing nexus opinions, fearing government involvement or simply not following the VA requirements to support a medical nexus of current disease to military service. The alternative for a veteran is to obtain an independent medical evaluation (IME). The problem is that an IME can cost thousands of dollars (not covered by HMO plans) and for veterans sick and out of work, the cost is prohibitive and their VA claims are quickly denied.
Why didn’t the Marine Corps or the Navy notify El Toro veterans that they may have been exposed to toxic chemicals? Except for Camp Lejeune, there is no requirement for the government to notify veterans or dependents of their possible exposure to contaminants from any military installation. An Act of Congress was required to notify Camp Lejeune Marine veterans and dependents. Clearly, unless Congress mandates that the government (DOD, VA or EPA) act to promulgate this important health information to veterans and their families, nothing will be done.
For the Navy and Marine Corps, the closure of El Toro is a success story. The public auction sale earned the Navy $649.5 million in 2005, more than enough to pay for remediation work at the base with millions left to fund other Navy base realignment activities (BRAC) and leave smiles on a few Admirals’ faces.
Any VA disability compensation claim for El Toro will be denied, if the claim is not supported by military medical records or a medical nexus opinion from a medical practioner. No nexus equates to denial for most of us.
The Ellis Clinic, a compassionate legal medical practice, Oklahoma City, OK, is an excellent place to secure a medical nexus opinion. The costs are reasonable ($500 for 4 medical conditions, plus $100 for each additional claim). The clinic is run by Dr. John Ellis, a former Air Force medical doctor.
Ell Toro Marines with terminal cancers should not be left to fight the battle for VA disability compensation on their own. The odds are not good, but that never stopped Marines in the past.
We’re the veterans of contaminated land,
No mama, no poppa, no Uncle Sam.
No aunts, no uncles, no nephews, no nieces.
No rifles, no planes, or artillery pieces.
And nobody gives a damn.
Robert O’Dowd, Environmental and Military Reporter
Robert O’Dowd is a Marine veteran who served 52 months on active duty with the 1st, 3rd and 4th Marine Aircraft Wings in the 1960s. At Marine Corps Air Station El Toro, CA, Robert was assigned to Marine Wing Services Group 37 (MWSG-37), the most environmentally contaminated air group on the base with 11 contaminated sites in 200 acres, and the area where CIA proprietary C-130s offloaded their deadly cargo of cocaine. At El Toro for 20 months, he worked and slept on duty watch in a Radium 226 contaminated work space in Hangar 296.
He has survived three cancers linked to service in the Marines. After honorable discharge from the Marine Corps and graduation from Temple University, Robert worked in a series of accounting and financial management positions with the federal government, including the EPA Office of Inspector General and the Defense Logistics Agency. In 2008, he teamed up with Tim King of Salem-News.com to write about the environmental contamination at US military bases, the health effects to veterans unknowingly exposed to toxic chemicals and radiation, and the use of El Toro in a guns-for-drugs covert operation in the 1980s and 1990s. You can write Robert O’Dowd at firstname.lastname@example.org. Robert O’Dowd is the author of TREACHERY: Murder, Cocaine, and the Lucifer Directive and A Few Good Men, Too Many Chemicals: Toxic Exposure of US Marines and Government Lies. Both books are available from Amazon.
$70 Billion Stolen from US Veterans
Special Guest: Edwin H. Crosby III – veterancourtcodes.com
The lid is being kept on a system of allocating secret codes attached to the discharge papers of over 20 million U.S. veteran soldiers. Codeswhich corporate and bureaucratic interests have been using to denyemployment and legitimate veteran benefits. Codes which facilitate a huge theft of over $70 Billion, in a scam which has lasted decades.
The theft of necessity extends to the highest level of the U.S military and political establishments. It has been squashed by the top tiers ofthe judicial system and unreported by the corporate media. It’s a storywhich could blow the lid off America, as tens of thousands of new vetsreturn to face the same ruthless theft as veterans before them.
The Next Level Show – 8th February, 2008
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The author of this story, Edwin Crosby, served in the USAF from 1966-1971. He volunteered to go to Vietnam, and served in MACVSOG, 15th Special Operations Squadron, Nha Trang, AB, RVN from November 1968 to June 1970.
Hidden on practically every veteran’s DD-214 discharge papers are secret code letters & numbers called Separation Program Numbers (SPN numbers) that might make obtaining veterans benefits difficult if not impossible. After 1974, it went on the other 8 or more copies of DD-214, and you’re still dead meat.
Here are listings of these secret alphabetic codes:
Even on an Honorable discharge, a “Spin Code” (SPN – Separation Program Number) can hurt a veteran’s chance of being hired by a prospective employer. These spin codes were put on DD 214 (discharge papers) from the 1940’s through the early 1970’s. Veterans can request a new DD 214 with the spin codes removed.
Examples of a few spin codes:
SPN 258 – Unfitness, multiple reasons
SPN 263 – Bedwetter
SPN 41A – Apathy, lack of interest
SPN 41E – Obesity
SPN 46C – Apathy / Obesity
SPN 463 – Paranoid personality
Beginning JUNE 11, 1956, under D.O.D. Instruction 1336.3, DOD ordered the military departments to begin putting a coded number on the main employment reference document of veterans. This document known as the DD-214 is intended to be presented to employers by veterans seeking employment and benefits.
According to Plaintiff’s Exhibit NO: 6, D.O.D. Instruction 1336.1, dated September 1, 1966, SUBJECT – Standardization of Forms for Report of Transfer or Discharge of Members of the Armed Forces of the U.S., there were to be 8 or more copies of DD-214 made. Copy one to the veteran, other copies eventually went to State Adjutant General, VA Data Processing Center, Austin, TX., State Director Selective Service, Nat. Military Records Center, St. Louis, Mo.
As of 1977, nearly 20 million veterans had a coded number. This is SHOCKING as in 1974 D.O.D. told Congress that only a couple hundred thousand had a code number. Moreover, in 1974 DOD told Congress they would stop the ” SPN ” coding system, however, in 1972, they were already changing the system to ” SPD ” ( separation program designator ). They deceived Congress and the American People. Millions of veterans with an Honorable Discharge have a ” BAD ” coded number.
Plaintiff’s Exhibit NO: 19 is the ” infamous corporation questionnaire “. These are major corporations admitting to having the codes and using them against veterans. I am the only one to have this due to litigation, as it is locked up in Congress under a ” Classified ” coding. Banks, life insurance companies, State Gov’t & Federal Gov’t Agencies have them as well. Lists of the codes were sent to FAA, ( federal aviation admin. ) HUD, ( housing & urban development ) Office Personnel Management.
There are Congressional Records available to read on this matter. As Congress attempted once to pass a law regarding the use of the coded numbers, however, this failed to pass.
Have you ever gone to a VA Hospital and had the doctor attempt to send you to the psychologist or psychiatrist ?? Your coded SPN was probably the reason why, and you did not even know, moreover, there could be nothing in your military records saying you had seen a psychologist, but, that did not stop them. One of the most given out codes was SPN-265 or SDN-265, which says: unsuitability, character & behavior disorders.
There were 5 main categories; unsuitability, unfitness, misconduct, homosexual, or, any reason based upon mental or moral issues. Then under each category, they piled on a bunch of numbers and meanings. i.e. SPN-384, Drug Abuse, Marijuana or Heroin. And get this, those veterans who signed up for “DRUG AMNESTY ” you got a code number, SPN-384, YOU GOT NO AMNESTY. You got screwed.
Have you had trouble getting benefits with VA ? Try this on for size, someone else has your claim number, a phony or ghost, and they get your money.
I have lived in Upstate NY, Missouri for 8 months, Illinois for 16 months, and now Montana 9 months. Everywhere I go, I speak to veterans, or, meet with them to tell them what is going on. On Sept. 29, 2001, I attended a ” Veterans Standdown ” here in Billings. I set up a table, and 7 vets came by with their DD-214 ( others did, but did not have DD-214 with them ). Vet NO: 7 had a code I never saw before, advised him to write to service branch he was in and ask, the other 6 veterans had an HONORABLE DISCHARGE, and ALL had a rotten coded number. What was alarming was all 6 said there was nothing in their military records to indicate they should have had that code. They were stabbed in the back.
You must find out what your coded number is, remember, if you were discharged before 1974, you automatically have one, after 1974, it went on the other 8 or more copies of DD-214, and you’re still dead meat.
What angers me most is the American Legion & V.F.W.
They remain silent on this matter.
Here is my email address: ECROSBY1 (at) rochester.rr.com
If you have any questions, want to see copies of these documents, give me a FAX number, I will send them to you, with your promise to show them to other veterans, or help a vet with one of these codes.
Do not be afraid to get some help, however, be careful as any vet rep may try to talk you out of it. You have been stabbed in the back, make sure you get some Justice.
Edwin Crosby III
Broken Soldier Video