El Toro Marine Awarded 100% Disability

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

by Robert O’Dowd


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

(SALEM, OR) – Retired Marine Captain Jim Brooks, age 79, is a victim of organic solvent exposure, Agent Orange, and a myriad of other toxic chemical exposures.

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

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.

Although his memory has failed him to day, I’m sure Captain Brooks would be especially proud of the efforts made by Susan Cast, his daughter, in putting together anoutstanding VA disability claim. Her work is evidence of the love and affection of a daughter for her father and a Marine’s training in getting all the details just right.

Semper Fi, Captain Brooks!


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Robert O’Dowd served in the 1st, 3rd and 4th Marine Aircraft Wings during 52 months of active duty in the 1960s. While at MCAS El Toro for two years, O'Dowd worked and slept in a Radium 226 contaminated work space in Hangar 296 in MWSG-37, the most industrialized and contaminated acreage on the base. Robert is a two time cancer survivor and disabled veteran. Robert graduated from Temple University in 1973 with a bachelor’s of business administration, majoring in accounting, and worked with a number of federal agencies, including the EPA Office of Inspector General and the Defense Logistics Agency. After retiring from the Department of Defense, he teamed up with Tim King of Salem-News.com to write about the environmental contamination at two Marine Corps bases (MCAS El Toro and MCB Camp Lejeune), the use of El Toro to ship weapons to the Contras and cocaine into the US on CIA proprietary aircraft, and the murder of Marine Colonel James E. Sabow and others who were a threat to blow the whistle on the illegal narcotrafficking activity. O'Dowd and King co-authored BETRAYAL: Toxic Exposure of U.S. Marines, Murder and Government Cover-Up. The book is available as a soft cover copy and eBook from Amazon.com. See: http://www.amazon.com/Betrayal-Exposure-Marines-Government-Cover-Up/dp/1502340003.