War vet headed to court to fight for Agent Orange compensation
For years, Basil McAllister has struggled with health issues he says are related to the spraying of the toxic Agent Orange spray at CFB Gagetown, and for years he has unsuccessfully fought Veterans Affairs for compensation.
Now the 82-year-old veteran is ready to go to court over the issue and plans to represent himself.
“I’ve basically worked all winter on this. I’ve had to go to the courts several times to put in different information,” says the Burton, N.B. resident.
The chemical Agent Orange was sprayed at CFB Gagetown during the 1960s while McAllister worked on the base. He says his health was forever changed after being exposed to the deadly dioxin.
“I have prostate cancer which has now gone into my bones, and I have skin cancer. I have Type 2 Diabetes. I’m a four-needle-a-day diabetic.”
His wife Betty says she and their children have also had health issues, and it doesn’t stop there.
“So the Agent Orange is spreading out to our grandchildren too,” says Betty McAllister. “All of our children have health problems. Some have seizures, strokes, and major bowel problems.”
The McAllisters did receive a one-time payment of $20,000 from the federal government for damages connected to the spraying, but McAllister says others have received monthly payments for damages.
“The story is that I was in the same area as these people at the same time and did the same thing. They got pensions, why didn’t I get one?” he asks.
McAllister says he has put in five applications and has been denied each time.
Now he says his only option is to take the issue to court, and he is defending himself because he can’t afford to pay for a lawyer.
Veterans Affairs would not comment on the case, saying it wouldn’t be appropriate as the matter is currently before the courts.
“I might not get anything out of it and at 82 I don’t know how long it would benefit me, but hopefully it might give somebody else a chance to do the same thing,” says McAllister.
He and his wife will appear in court next month.
With files from CTV Atlantic's Nick Moore