Are you eligible for VA Disability Compensation and other benefits for illnesses – conditions caused by hazardous materials (HAZMAT)?

7 mins read

By Larry Dandridge

Military members and their families have, at times, been exposed to HAZMAT. Veterans and their dependents can find out if they may be eligible for disability compensation and other VA benefits for illnesses and conditions, caused by contact with hazardous materials, while they were serving. For help in determining eligibility read the information at https://www.va.gov/disability/eligibility/hazardous-materials-exposure/. 

Below is a list of some of the instances of Vets and their families HAZMAT exposure. 

Camp Lejeune Contaminated Drinking Water. If you served at Camp Lejeune or MCAS New River between August 1953 – December 1987, you may be at risk for certain illnesses caused by contaminants in the drinking water during that time. Read the information at: https://www.va.gov/disability/eligibility//hazardous-materials-exposure/camp-lejeune-water-contamination/.

Specific Environmental Hazards. If you served in Iraq, Afghanistan, Djibouti, or near Atsugi, Japan, you may have had contact with toxic chemicals in the air, water, or soil. Burn pits, sulfur fires, and waste generator pollutants. See: https://www.va.gov/disability/eligibility//hazardous-materials-exposure/specific-environmental-hazards/. 

Gulf War and Afghanistan Illness. If you served in the Southwest Asia or Afghanistan, you may be at risk of certain illnesses linked to this region. See: https://www.va.gov/disability/eligibility//hazardous-materials-exposure/gulf-war-illness-southwest-asia/ and …. exposure/gulf-war-illness-afghanistan/. 

Agent Orange. If you served in Vietnam or in or near the Korean Demilitarized Zone or at a U.S. Army installation in Thailand or a Royal Thai AFB base during the Vietnam Era or in certain related jobs, you may have had contact with the herbicide, Agent Orange. Contact the VA for a free Agent Orange Registry health exam and read the information at https://www.va.gov/health-care/health-needs-conditions/health-isues-related-to-service-era/vietnam-war/. 

Asbestos. If you worked in certain military jobs, you may have had contact with asbestos (toxic fibers). If you served in Iraq or other countries in the Middle East and Southeast Asia, you may have had contact with asbestos when old buildings got damaged, releasing toxic chemicals into the air. Or, you may have had contact with asbestos if you worked in certain jobs or settings, like shipyards or vehicle repair. If you worked in jobs with certain HAZMAT, talk to your doctor about getting tested for illnesses that affect your lungs. See https://www.va.gov/disability/eligibility/hazardous-materials-exposure/asbestos/ .

Birth Defects Like Spina Bifida. If you served in Vietnam, in Thailand, or in or near the DMZ during the Vietnam Era, and your child has spina bifida or certain other birth defects, your child may be eligible for disability benefits. See https://www.va.gov/disability/eligibility/special-claims/birth-defects .

Mustard gas or lewisite. If you served in the German bombing of Bari, Italy, in WWII or worked in certain jobs, you may have had contact with mustard gas. See https://www.va.gov/disability/eligibility/hazardous-materials-exposure/mustard-gas-lewisite/ .

Project 112/SHAD. If you were part of warfare testing for Projects 112 or Shipboard Hazard and Defense (SHAD) from 1962 to 1974, you may be at risk of illnesses caused by chemical testing. See: https://www.va.gov/disability/eligibility/hazardous-materials-exposure/project-42-shad/ . 

Radiation Exposure. If you served in the post WWII occupation of Hiroshima or Nagasaki, were imprisoned in Japan, worked with or near nuclear weapons testing, or served at a gaseous diffusion plant or in certain other jobs, you may be at risk for illnesses believed to be caused by radiation. See: https://www.va.gov/disability/eligibility/hazardous-materials-exposure/ionizing-radiation/.

Chemical and Bio Testing. If you volunteered for medical research for chemical – biological programs between 1942 – 1945, you can get medical care through the US Army if you have an illness or injury caused by participation. Visit https;//armymedicine.health.mil/CBTP or call 800-984-8523 for more information. 

Filing a claim can be complicated and confusing, therefore using a VSO, other certified adviser, your VA Regional Office, or by calling 800-827-1000 is always smart. SC County Vet Affairs Offices contact information is at https://scdva.sc.gov/county-veterans-affairs-offices . To file a claim, follow the instructions at https://www.va.gov/disability/how-to-file-claim/. 

The Island News articles on Veterans and their benefits are meant to encourage Vets and their families to learn what their benefits are and file claims for those benefits. These articles are not a substitute for the advice of a VSO, other trained professional advisors, or a Vets Benefits Regional Office or the information published by the VA.

Larry Dandridge is a patient at the RHJ VA Medical Center; an Army ex-Enlisted Infantryman, Ex-Warrant Officer Combat Pilot, and retired Lt. Colonel; a past Veterans Service Officer; a volunteer Patient Adviser at the RHJ VA Medical Center; the Fisher House Charleston volunteer Good Will Ambassador; the volunteer VP for Veteran Affairs for the Coastal Carolina Association of the US Army (AUSA) Chapter; the Author of the award winning BLADES OF THUNDER (Book One); the CEO of TVV Publishing LLC; a past Aerospace Company Regional Manager; the Founder of CLC Hospice LLC; a Lean Six Sigma Black Belt; a Motivational Speaker; a past University Business, Aeronautics, Military Science, and Writing Instructor; and a contributing writer for the Lowcountry Weekly & Island News. You can reach Larry at LDandridge@earthlink.net. 

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