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Jun-10-2011 14:45printcomments

El Toro Marine Awarded 100% Disability

Korean War and Vietnam War veteran totally disabled. Daughter completes successful VA claim on the first try.

Marine Jim Brooks, Korea K-8, F3D Skyknight, Courtesy: Brooks family
Marine Jim Brooks, Korea K-8, F3D Skyknight, Courtesy: Brooks family

(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

  • . You can email Bob O’Dowd, Salem-News.com Environmental and Military Reporter, at this address: consults03@comcast.net

    Comments Leave a comment on this story.

    All comments and messages are approved by people and self promotional links or unacceptable comments are denied.

    Brynell January 10, 2012 11:51 am (Pacific time)

    Times are changing for the better!

    Richard L. Matteoli, CDR, Ret. June 14, 2011 8:59 am (Pacific time)

    KUDOS! Hopefully this is the opening of the door that will help so many more.

    Theresa Brooks Armstrong June 13, 2011 3:15 pm (Pacific time)

    Thank You Robert for this awesome story. I just wish this could go into the "Statesmen Journal" more people need to be able to read this "Victory" Marine Mustang Gunnery Sergant J.W.Brooks's Daughter OOH RAH!

    wasadoc June 12, 2011 5:00 am (Pacific time)

    Excellent story. As to the VA, they will automatically deny almost all claims, the first time it is submitted. They want you to "go-away". Refile, Refile! Don't try to represent yourself--have a VSO from DAV, VFW, or one of the others represent you. They know what they are doing.

    Editor: You know the saying, "Deny deny until they die". 

    Mark Lee June 11, 2011 6:28 pm (Pacific time)

    Roger if you were in-country during the Vietnam War, and have one of the listed diseases on the AG Registry you will immediately receive a disability. As per the %percentgage, that is why it's a good idea to get a service organization like the VFW, DAV, etc. to do your claim paperwork. Good luck to you. Suggestion: To you Roger, or any combat vet, if you have private insurance, keep it somehow, for the VA medical system is really getting worse daily. Remember the medical staff cannot be fired, it's tough to pursue malpractice because you are suing the U.S. government, and the staff generally were those who finished at the bottom of their class. I've been around the system for a long time and will be getting major medical next month for another option (2nd opinion) for any significant health issues.

    Editor: U.S. military veterans are blocked from suing the U.S. government for service related disabilities by an item called the Feres Doctrine.  See: The Feres Doctrine Horror Show By Salem-News.com  writer John McCarthy.  Fortunately many VA personnel are dedicated and trying to fix problems from within.  Finally, there is no such thing as receiving an immediate disability claim.  You need what is called a 'Nexus letter' that will connect your claim to your former service.  You can learn a great deal about the Nexus letter and related issues by visiting this link.

    Roger June 11, 2011 5:38 pm (Pacific time)

    Too many of our veterans (myself included) are affected by chemicals where we served at overseas and in the U. S. The V. A. is trying its best to get out of taking care of us. We did opur job, now do yours !!

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  • Sean Flynn was a photojournalist in Vietnam, taken captive in 1970 in Cambodia and never seen again.

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