Editor’s note: This post was substantially updated Jan. 14, 2022. It adds the fourth paragraph about Gulf War and Post 9/11 Veterans, the sixth paragraph about Vietnam Veterans, and the last paragraph about the registries.
Were you exposed to hazardous materials while serving in the military, such as Agent Orange in Vietnam or burn pits in Afghanistan, Iraq or Southwest Asia? If so, you may be eligible to file for service-connected benefits based on presumptive exposure.
Over the course of the last six months, VA has begun processing service-connected disability claims for six new presumptive conditions related to exposure to hazardous materials.
In May 2021, VA started implementing provisions of the William M. Thornberry National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2021 (NDAA), adding bladder cancer, hypothyroidism and Parkinsonism to the list of medical conditions presumptively associated with exposure to Agent Orange in Vietnam and certain other locations.
For Gulf War and Post 9/11 Veterans, a few months later VA added asthma, rhinitis and sinusitis (to include rhinosinusitis) on a presumptive basis based on particulate matter exposures during military service in Southwest Asia and certain other areas.
Any Veteran who was previously denied service-connection for asthma, rhinitis and sinusitis (to include rhinosinusitis) and had symptoms manifest within 10 years of military service would 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 medical condition and specify that the medical condition is being claimed due to in-service exposure to environmental hazards.
Vietnam Veterans with bladder cancer, hypothyroidism and Parkinsonism due to Agent Orange exposure who had previous claims denied should also file another claim, but symptoms do not need to have manifested within 10 years of military service. These Veterans should also use VA Form 20-0995, “Decision Review Request: Supplemental Claim” when filing for previously denied service-connected benefits.
VA is committed to assisting Veterans who may have been exposed to hazardous materials during their military service.
Be sure to stay plugged in to www.va.gov for the most recent developments around environmental hazards; VA is constantly conducting research and surveillance, as well as reviewing scientific literature for conditions that may be related to exposure during military service.
If you feel you have a chronic condition attributed to an in-service exposure, we highly encourage you to file a claim. For more information about VA benefits and eligibility, or how to file a claim, Veterans and survivors can visit VA’s website at www.va.gov or call toll-free at 1-800-827-1000.
The Airborne Hazards and Open Burn Pits Registry (AHOBPR) is governed by law and eligibility is for Gulf War Veterans and Post 9/11 Veterans for further scientific research into the health impacts of industrial burn pits. Vietnam Veterans are already covered under Agent Orange presumptions and are encouraged to directly file claim if they feel their medical condition is related to Agent Orange exposure.