March 20, 2022, marks the 19th anniversary of the beginning of Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF). This anniversary provides us with an opportunity to reflect on the sacrifices of those who served in a conflict that lasted nearly nine years and claimed the lives of nearly 4,500 service members and left over 31,000 wounded. If you served in OIF, and have a disability or illness as a result, you may be eligible for VA benefits and services.

Additional presumptive conditions related to particulate matter exposure

Those who served in OIF, or the Southwest Asia Theater of Operations and other locations, may now be entitled to compensation for medical conditions presumed to be related to exposure to fine particulate matter.

Veterans and survivors who believe they may be eligible for compensation for asthma, rhinitis or sinusitis that emerged within a 10-year period after separation from military service are encouraged to file a claim for benefits.

Those who served in the following locations are presumed to have been exposed to particulate matter and may be entitled to the new presumption:

  • Southwest Asia Theater of Operations beginning August 2, 1990, to the present.
  • Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, Syria or Djibouti beginning September 19, 2001, to the present.

The Southwest Asia Theater of Operations refers to these locations and the air space above them:

  • Iraq.
  • Kuwait.
  • Saudi Arabia.
  • The neutral zone between Iraq and Saudi Arabia.
  • Bahrain.
  • Qatar.
  • The United Arab Emirates.
  • Oman.
  • The Gulf of Aden.
  • The Gulf of Oman.
  • The Persian Gulf.
  • The Arabian Sea.
  • The Red Sea.

For more information on the new presumptive conditions, visit the Airborne Hazards and Burn Pit Exposures – Public Health page.

VA is committed to providing Veterans with the medical care, benefits and services they have earned. For the most up-to-date list of service-connected disabilities, please check Exposure To Specific Environmental Hazards | Veterans Affairs (va.gov).

File a disability claim

If you have an illness or condition related to particulate matter, exposure or any other military environmental exposure, we encourage you to file a claim. For more information on how to file a VA disability claim, click here.

If you were previously denied service connection for any of the new conditions but had symptoms manifest within 10 years of military service, you will need to file another claim. Be sure to use VA Form 20-0995, “Decision Review Request: Supplemental Claim” when filing. The claim form should include the name of the diagnosed medical condition. If you have additional questions about the claim process, visit VA.gov or call 1- 800-827-1000.

To learn more visit www.va.gov/disability/eligibility/hazardous-materials-exposure/.

By Bryan Lett is USMC Veteran and public affairs specialist with the Veterans Benefits Administration

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Published on Mar. 22, 2022

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39 Comments

  1. ivan March 28, 2022 at 6:09 pm

    the first rule is to file a claim and get a claim number. then the clock is running. it will not be fast or it will not make any sense. this is the government. i wish i would have filed 20 years earlier than i did. demand a good service offer or power of attorney to fpllow your case. we have a good vfw vso office in the saint louis area and when i file a claim i hand walk it in to the office. best idea in the world. i should think each state would have comporable service. even if you have to drive a ways to initiate your claim. if you are not getting good service localy go straight to the source. i have friends who are sucessfull going strait to the va call in line. it is not easy it is not fast and it may not make sense. it is the government. it is ok to have multiple claims at the same time. our benefit is to file claims in our begalf. the va job is to make the determination on the claim and provide for our care. it is also ok to appeal any decision for our behalf. keep up the faith and keep the paperwork going.

    [Editor: While you can have multiple claims in at the same time, you cannot have multiple claims at the same time with the same medical conditions. This will actually slow down your claim.]

  2. Don Sammons March 26, 2022 at 8:01 pm

    VSO Huntington, WV had claims for 2 yrs and DID ABSOLUTELY NOTHING. Took 7 years to get processed way back when. Ditto the plight of literally hundreds of other equally disabled yet unserved veterans. ….. Plodded thru the 7 years one CHAIN YANK at a time all by myself. ————– Ditto my neighbor veteran, Jughead, suffering more than 40 years now from 2 cancers, ischemic heart disease and several ON THE LIST maladies was awarded a single service connected 10% for tinnitus. ————- Hearing these BS stories about how VSO will help US turns my stomach. THEY DON’T DO A DAMNED THING BUT, like Social Security, Hope we GIVE UP AND GO AWAY or JUST DIE.

    WV had more casualties per capita in Vietnam than any other state. And we have more underserved, miserably suffering veterans per capita today — I’M SURE THERE ARE VETERANS WHO ARE SERVED BY VSO, BUT IN THE DAYS OF DARKNESS WHEN VETS OF MY DAY NEED THEIR HELP VSO IN HUNTINGTON, WV WAS AN OFFICE WHERE CLAIMS WERE DROPPED OFF NEVER TO BE REVISITED AGAIN.

    DON SAMMONS,
    Grunt Lima 3/7 0311 Vietnam
    Youngest DI at PI during Vietnam
    Staff Sgt 0369 USMC Enlisted/Mustanger
    Major USMC Retired.

    • Tim Hutchinson March 30, 2022 at 5:31 pm

      Sorry you had a bad experience with a VSO. I had a bad experience with a Marine, so are all Marines then bad? Your neighbor has presumptive conditions and served in Vietnam and only is rated for tinnitus? Even under Nehmer, any new condition added to the presumptive list that was previously denied is subject to an automatic review once the condition is added as presumptive.

      If he is in WV, have him start with a phone call here: https://veterans.wv.gov/Pages/default.aspx

      If not, do a google search for the State Division or Department of Veterans Affairs where he resides and start there.

  3. Laura March 25, 2022 at 11:40 am

    My Spouse was Special Operations Force in Vietnam also. We had to “get a 5 Star General in 1980, to Look into that Vietnam Service” as there was NO DD214 Spouse kept being Told by the VA, in 1980!”
    When He Finally did Get the Non-existent DD214, “it had Almost Nothing Listed, NO Frankfurt Germany stationed(In Frankfurt he was Flown back to U.S., for His Dads’ Funeral) no Vietnam”. It Jst stated He was a Power Lineman. It had his Entry and Exit tho.
    Agent Orange is known to cause rare “Liver Cancer, Pancreatic Cancer, Skin and Breathing probs” plus! If Civilian Doctors Diagnose such, “They’ll Tell a Patient….the VA will Not, Accept Any Civilian Medical Records!☹️” So a prob there, to start with Veterans and VA acceptance of Previous Tests etc. What can Veterans Do about that.
    He was Upset, bt accepted that “He even got his DD214!” Special Forces have a Hell of a Time, getn VA Help, beyond Belief! But Too Many Veterans and their Families, Do also. So 1980 yr Serious Malfunctions within the VA system! What’s that Tell You about probs in the VA now???
    I think 42 Years is Enough of Staving Off Veterans from Receiving Deserved Benefits or Keeping Them….and their Families also!!! So I just Pray, and for “All of You” it gets Better…..I’d hope VA had Improved over the Decades. My Spouse died in 2009. Widowed many years now☹️. ( Ty for reading)

  4. Laura March 25, 2022 at 11:11 am

    My spouse Died within 6 weeks of being Diagnosed with a “Rare Liver cancer”…..(Vietnam Veteran)by a Civilian Doctor? After 3O years, He got his Foot in VA Clinic….,who Knew He would DIE very Soon, but Still required Him “Get All Testing Done, Again”, wouldn’t accept Social Securitys’ 100% Disabled”☹️. Status.
    He Told the VA “You Know I’m Dying, probly DIE before, I Can Do the Repeating Tests I already Had by SS”! But “VA does Us that way, Don’t make it Easier for Us who Served Our Country”!
    He told Me “I won’t ever Make it to: another VA Clinic….Long Distance Away, to Re-Do “All 18 Years of My Medical Records Testing”! But “He accepted the VA appointment anyway”…..Never Made It!!! Died within 6 weeks of that VA appt Date☹️.
    But….He said “Got My Foot thru VA Door” for You Ma, hope it does Help. I post humously as his Widow, had to Ask a VSO and Politicians too, to File His Claim. But For Myself. I TG it went thru, wasn’t a Lot but I did No Longer Face being Homeless! Whole situation was Very Stressful….

    • Laura March 25, 2022 at 11:52 am

      I had a New comment but Wasn’t Allowed to Post it! Reckon 1 post per Person. I’ll try this Comment anyway!
      I jst want the VA to do Better for “All eras of Veterans” and for “Their Families also, their Wives, and Children”!
      I keep wondering what Year it may happen….,We dealt with VA in 1980 our 1st round!
      Yes 42 years ago…….that’s enough Time to have Improved on Claims, Services and Benefits, or it should be.

  5. Jeffrey March 24, 2022 at 9:30 pm

    I have LODs stating injuries incurred during service Dr.s C&P evaluations service connecting my back knee and shoulder problems and I still get denial letters. Alot of this boils down to one issue inexperienced lazy or overworked raters and raters not reviewing cases carefully and accurately. They only chance you have is getting an honest rater who reviews your case as if its his own. . I had one denial with every CFR ever written cut n pasted into my letter which ended up being 28 pages long. If nonsense. Yeah that’s how someone like myself who has served 34 years wants to be treated.

  6. Dennis Stauffer March 24, 2022 at 3:21 pm

    I’m still waiting for Congress to pass legislation to recognize the Vietnam Veteran’s Liver Fluke , and is merely a bill to study existing veteran’s that may have suffered from this invasive worm. My introduction to this combat zone injury did not appear for nearly 44 years, which according to a VA report in 2014 is typical. With me and many or most others, it presented itself as pancreatic cancer. I do not have any further evidence of the numbers of Vietnam Veterans inflicted, nor the percentage of those succumbing to the injury. I know that I am a minority because I did not require chemo or radiation post surgery, hence writing of this today. Currently, the legislation is stalled for the third congress, having failed to make it to the floor for a vote. Representative Lee Zeldin of NY has introduced this bill (H.R. 1273) in the 115th, 116th, and now the 117th congress. I don’t really know why I decided to air this laundry here, but here it is. By the way, I served in Soc Trang, South Vietnam through 1968 as a Senior Radar Operator of a Counter Mortar Radar Detachment, 1st Aviation Brigade.

  7. John J. Montecalvo March 24, 2022 at 1:35 pm

    Hi Gerald, I took that G.W.R. in 94 and 95,They didn’t care to tell me the results much, I think they were trying to help the Desert Storm Veteran then, but not to much, this Century.

  8. Greg Alderete March 24, 2022 at 12:46 pm

    While is combat service in Somalia consistently left off as an area of concern. It was a burning fetid shit hole.

  9. Manuel Martinez Jr March 24, 2022 at 11:41 am

    For those Veterans in Texas please follow http://www.tvc.texas.gov schedule an appointment and either myself or one of my collogues statewide will contact you and assist you with your claim/appeal/supplemental claim/or Notice of Disagreement.

  10. Clyde Moore March 24, 2022 at 10:15 am

    Clyde moore jr I served Korea 1970 near dmz I have diabetes, high blood pressure, severe sinusitis, lymphoma, heart valve replacement

  11. Gwendolyn Lime March 24, 2022 at 10:14 am

    I was service connected 3 months ago for rhinitis for 10%. After that I filed a claim for sinusitis and have private medical records that started 10 years after my years showing I was diagnosed with sinusitis and rhinitis, but I was denied because the first date for my issues was a few months past exactly 10 years and at the time of my C&P exam my sinusitis was better. That was only because a month before I was treated by my private doctor with steroids and antibiotics. So just yesterday I saw my doctor at the VA and she says I needs sinus surgery and referred me to Ear, Nose and Throat. I was told surgery and meds are only a temporary fix and that I would sinus issues for the rest of my life. So I’m wondering how bad do sinus issues have to??? and at the C&P exam for sinusitis, my 10% for rhinitis was put to 0%. The VA says the only thing I have in my favor is that I served in Kuwait for Operation Enduring Freedom. I’m confused!!!

  12. Bill Howard March 24, 2022 at 9:22 am

    Why does the gov send us all over the world then deni that we were there?

  13. Robert Carr March 24, 2022 at 8:38 am

    Of course I want my brothers and sisters in arms to receive the benefits that they have earned and deserve, but the entire Red Sea, the Gulf of Oman? What about the entire Gulf of Tonkin for exposure to agent orange in the 1960’s and 1970’s. Yes there is a blue water navy bill that was passed, that shows agent orange had a magic line of 12 miles out from the coast that it did not ever cross. It’s always about the money to pay for the benefits, without any regard for the consequences of what has happened to veterans of these conflicts.

  14. Bob Capp March 24, 2022 at 8:37 am

    I have had two bouts of adrenal cancer, one in 2002 and again in 2020. First tumor was removed surgically, along with a kidney. Second one was in my spine, causing paralysis from the chest down. Since there is no history of this cancer in my family, I filed a claim with VA due to Agent Orange exposure during my tour in Vietnam in 1969-1970. Of course, it was denied since adrenal cancer was not on “The List”. My contention is that this is such a rare type of cancer, it has not been studied enough. My appeal is still ongoing.

  15. Paul Meadows March 24, 2022 at 8:34 am

    Yeah, I was awarded 10% and they took away 10% for something else. Thanks.

  16. Paul Stout March 24, 2022 at 8:12 am

    Why is my disability limited to a tax break because I retired with less than 50% disability from USAF. But folks I worked with have both USAF time combined with DOD Civil Service DOD retirement receive a monthly disability check? What is the VA doing to correct this issue?

  17. Anthony Bonvino March 24, 2022 at 8:04 am

    I have been waiting for almost a year for ANY type of decision on my benefits. I’m at 70% right now and haven’t been able to physically work, since April 8 2021. I have filed for temporary unemployability and an increase in my rating on April 12th after a very traumatic incident. Since that date, I have been homeless 3x and lost my automobile and currently live in a run down trailer that I’m about to be evicted from because I can’t afford to pay rent again. My brother and his family have had to file bankruptcy along with him being divorced for helping me. I have been denied benefits by the state of New York multiple times. It is ridiculous how long the V.A. takes on their ratings and what we suffer just to get the help we need. I can’t get my Reps to help, switched twice already, and still nothing. The system is broken and to add more “presumptive conditions” when those who are about ti be homeless for a 4th time in 1 year, are still waiting for a decision that will most likely be kicked down the road anyway, is ridiculous! I have multiple notes per week in my file by the V.A.s own mental health dept stating my conditions are dire and I still can’t get help. Does the V.A. ever wonder why so many of us commit suicide? If I didn’t owe my brother thousands of dollars for keeping me clothed, fed and an occasional place to sleep for a year, I probably wouldn’t be here either. But I promised him and his family I’d pay them back, unfortunately I cost him his family, and there’s nothing I can do about it thanks to the V.A.!!! This system is broken and doesn’t care about Veterans! All the excuses of why I haven’t received a rating yet due to “Covid delays” aren’t paying my bills, satisfying landlords. Maybe they should help the ones that need it first before adding more ways to get other Veterans to jump through hoops for 10%.

    • Elizabeth Keen March 24, 2022 at 10:21 am

      Have you tried reaching out to DAV? https://www.dav.org/veterans/resources/ They helped me file for my benefits when I was medically discharged. They will help you file all the paperwork and push to make sure your claim is completed in a timely manner. They can find out why it’s stalled or what your next options are. Otherwise, I suggest trying to move to a veteran friendly state. I know this isn’t always an option, but there are several states that provide a lot of support for veterans and many that don’t help at all. You could also reach out to https://www.woundedwarriorproject.org/programs for assistance. Veterans who are homeless or at imminent risk of homelessness are strongly encouraged to contact the National Call Center for Homeless Veterans at (877) 4AID-VET (877-424-3838) for assistance. https://www.va.gov/homeless/

    • Michael Cheek March 25, 2022 at 2:38 pm

      I concur with Ms. Keene. Hang in there brother. Unfortunately, NYS isn’t known for it’s Veterans’ assistance. Had to be a long hump just to get to 70%. I feel you, too little too late and inflation just turned a fart into a poot. DAV has helped me with my own claim in the past and the VA did have a program that kept me off the street and out of a shelter. Look into HUD/VASH. Keep in mind that this wont be resolved overnight but chipping a tree will make it fall.

  18. Tim Bean March 23, 2022 at 10:33 pm

    I have been denied VA benefits once before for the same tours I served in Saudi Arabia; one with F-15 squadron assigned to Dahran Air Base in 1991 and the other with an AWACS squadron assigned to Rihaud Air Base in 1995. Don’t be a dummy like me and not put in for it again.

    • Adam March 24, 2022 at 9:40 am

      Based on the new law, you should talk with a lawyer or a VSO about having your claim from back then revived to try and get backpay all the way to the original claim.

      [Editor: Once a decision is 365 days old, it cannot be appealed or re-opened.]

  19. william cook March 23, 2022 at 8:45 pm

    Does this apply to vietnam veterans exposed to agent orange that now have chronic asthma ,bronchitis, and pulmonary function issues ?

    • Russell Goodman March 24, 2022 at 8:28 am

      No, but check with your local County Veteran Services Officer concerning presumptives for Agent Orange exposure. They can help you with an answer for your situation.

  20. Thomas McCray Doughtie March 23, 2022 at 8:33 pm

    What about the thousands of Vietnam War veterans,, who as young lower rank soldiers were detailed to stand over and stir human waste half barrels as they burned each day, with diesel fuel, from the latrines we all used. Now I have developed severe COPD (Chronic Pulmonary Obstructive Disease) and now are tied to Oxygen 24/7?

  21. Jan Crossland March 23, 2022 at 8:05 pm

    Why is it so damn hard for a US Army Desert Storm disabled combat veteran..like me..to get someone to help me get a truck or SUV! I have been without a vehicle for one month now..I have checked alot of resources..no one can help..Can You!

    • Jay Bee March 24, 2022 at 10:53 am

      VA only helps paralyzed veterans get vehicles. The DAV and possibly other service organizations may be able to help but it will depend upon whether they are a true service organization or just a bar where veterans hang out which are now only accessible to family members who never served. VA and Service Org’s need a complete revamp in my humble opinion. They were both supposedly established to help us not hinder us but that fell through the cracks long ago in most case’s!

  22. Jada Obrien March 23, 2022 at 7:35 pm

    Having soo many issues I can barely function… a diagnosis… letters from witnesses and I’m STILL denied in my claims. I keep appealing them. It’s insanity that we get denied with literally every proof needed!

  23. Gerald Brickwood March 23, 2022 at 7:32 pm

    What became of the original Gulf War Registry? There were units there during the Desert Storm Campaign (me and mine included) that were included in hazard areas from the destruction of “old” chemical weapons stocks. There were also many of us housed in “Camp Liberty” (Sub Han North Industrial Park, Kuwait City) who were exposed for weeks on end to smoke from the oil well fires. it has been years since I’ve heard anything at all.

  24. John Grimaldi March 23, 2022 at 7:25 pm

    How about agent orange and Kidney Cancer?

  25. augusto vegamatos March 23, 2022 at 7:13 pm

    where i can get a lawyer for summit my claim? for those presumptive conditions related to particulate matter exposure

    • H March 24, 2022 at 8:22 am

      Good day, a good Start place would be to look into the local disabled American veterans office, they were able to assisted with my claims.

    • Adam March 24, 2022 at 9:48 am

      You don’t need to spend money on a lawyer. Use a Veteran Service Organization (like the DAV above, or you can find other registered VSOs here: https://www.va.gov/vso)

      Also, for these presumptive claims, if you have one, you can file yourself in just a few minutes. As long as your records say you were there, and you have something that says you suffered from them before the 10yr mark of being out (so say you got out in 2010, you’d need to have been diagnosed, or some other way able to show you were dealing with the condition, like buddy/spouse statements by 2020), then they will automatically grant the disability.

      Be careful, though, when putting in for new claims. Opening a new claim, or asking for an increase in something you already have, can give the VA the chance to come in and check out all your other disabilities to see if they’ve “improved.”

  26. Abe Schultz March 23, 2022 at 7:12 pm

    What if it seems as though I’m constantly stuffed up and haven’t had a doctor look at it either at the VA or a doctor not associated with the VA ? Should I have them look at it ?

    • Adam March 24, 2022 at 9:49 am

      Yes. Tell them you want to be evaluated for the rhinitis.

  27. Joseph L Donovan Jr. March 23, 2022 at 7:02 pm

    Any benefits for cold war veterans of the 1960s

  28. William Gary Foster March 23, 2022 at 7:01 pm

    I served in operation Iraq Freedom from 2004-2005 station at FOB Duke Nijfa.
    I developed esophageal cancer following returning.
    All documents-physicians reports supporting the diagnosis caused by the environmental exposure has been recorded though the VA department since April 2020 with no resolution.
    To this date from submission to “status pending “ no word has been given on my deserved compensation.
    William Gary Foster

  29. MICHAEL E BORTHS March 23, 2022 at 6:40 pm

    Think I need help. I applied for VA compensation for thyroid problems related to Vietnam over a year ago. Still no results. I also have VA treated asthma since returning from Vietnam, but my VA service officer said to wait to file claim till thyroid claim goes through. Trouble is I might be dead by than. Mike

Comments are closed.

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