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El Toro Marine Awarded 100% DisabilityRobert O’Dowd Salem-News.com
Korean War and Vietnam War veteran totally disabled. Daughter completes successful VA claim on the first try.
(SALEM, Ore.) - Retired Marine Captain Jim Brooks, age 79, is a victim of organic solvent exposure, Agent Orange, and a myriad of other toxic chemical exposures.
Jim Brooks has Alzheimer’s, a fatal brain disease that causes a slow decline in memory, thinking and reasoning skills. A Marine Mustang, Gunnery Sergeant Brooks, a jet engine mechanic, was promoted to 1st Lieutenant during the Vietnam War.
According to the Alzheimer’s Association, “Alzheimer’s is not a normal part of aging, although the greatest known risk factor is increasing age, and the majority of people with Alzheimer’s are 65 and older. But Alzheimer’s is not just a disease of old age. Up to 5 percent of people with the disease have early-onset Alzheimer’s (also known as younger-onset), which often appears when someone is in their 40s or 50s.”
The father of six children, Captain Brooks spent almost 17 years of active service at MCAS El Toro. Cathy Brooks, his wife and a retired nurse, said that her husband made the decision to purchase a home off-base, which fortuitously prevented his family from exposure to the toxic chemicals in El Toro’s soil and groundwater. Unknown to him, his exposure to TCE would lead to Alzheimer’s disease, a very serious cognitive disorder.
Scientific literature identifies more than 100 industrial chemicals that are known to affect the human brain, causing cognitive symptoms. TCE is one of those chemicals.
The VA approved a 100% disability for Jim Brooks in 2011. He was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s dementia in 2002 and by 2010 the disease had advanced to the severe stages of dementia. There is no family history of dementia in siblings and grandparents. A nexus opinion from his physician stated that his exposure to TCE at El Toro was at least as likely as not the cause of his Alzheimer’s dementia. Marine Jim Brooks now resides in a nursing home. The disease had advanced to the point where he could no longer be cared for at home.
Sue Cast, one of Jim’s six children, put together her father’s VA disability and compensation claim with help from Veterans-for-Change’s CEO Jim Davis, Garden Grove, California. Jim said that most of the credit for the excellent VA claim goes to Sue Cast.
Sue said that, “We were well trained by one of the Corps best! When I went up to see him last July 4th the home had us take the military guys out in front of the Center and wait for the Air Force jets do a fly over, it was loud and as my father watched he just nodded his head to that familiar screech he knows all too well ….the Marine Corps could not have ordered a more dedicated, Gung-ho guy as my Dad.”
As part of his VA claim, Sue put together the following career time line and exposures’. The VA doesn’t require this step, but it’s obvious that it’s an excellent tool for documenting a disability claim.
Bob O’Dowd is a former U.S. Marine with thirty years of experience on the east coast as an auditor, accountant, and financial manager with the Federal government. Half of that time was spent with the Defense Logistics Agency in Philadelphia. Originally from Pennsylvania, he enlisted in the Marine Corps at age 19, served in the 1st, 3rd, and 4th Marine Aircraft Wings in 52 months of active duty in the 1960s. A graduate of Temple University, Bob has been married to Grace for 31 years. He is the father of two adult children and the grandfather of two boys. Bob has a blog site on former MCAS El Toro at mwsg37.com. This subject is where Bob intersected with Salem-News.com. Bob served in the exact same Marine Aviation Squadron that Salem-News founder Tim King served in, twenty years earlier. With their combined on-site knowledge and research ability, Bob and Tim and a handful of other ex-Marines, have put the contamination of MCAS El Toro on the map. The base is highly contaminated with TCE, trichloroethelyne
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