We found the following summary of VA health registry programs and services regarding most exposures. It is a handy summary, albeit an incomplete one as we note at the bottom. This information is from the www.publicheath.va.gov/exposures, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Veterans Health Administration Office of Public Health. If you have any questions, contact your local VA office.
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ health registry programs provide focused evaluations for certain environmental exposures during military service. If you do not feel your situation falls under the following categories, be sure to visit your health care provider to discuss your exposure concerns.
• Agent Orange: Agent Orange was a mixture of herbicides used by the U.S. military from 1962 to 1975 to remove leaves from trees that provided cover for enemy forces during the Vietnam conflict. Agent Orange was also used, tested or stored at some military bases in the United States and other foreign locations.
• Airborne hazards and open burn pits: Veterans who deployed to countries including Iraq, Afghanistan and Dijibouti since 1990 may have been exposed to airborne hazards, including smoke from open burn pits (trash fires), oil-well fires, dust and pollution.
• Depleted uranium (DU): DU is a byproduct of the uranium enrichment process used by the U.S. military in projectiles and tank armor during the Gulf War in 1990. It is most hazardous when internalized through shrapnel, contaminated wounds or inhalation.
• Gulf War: Gulf War-related exposure from 1990 on includes a variety of potentially harmful substances: pesticides; pyridostigmine bromide (anti-nerve agent); infectious diseases; chemical and biological warfare agents; vaccinations (including anthrax and botulinum toxoid); oil-well fires, smoke and petroleum; and depleted uranium.
• Ionizing radiation: Since 1941, some veterans have been exposed to ionizing radiation from a variety of sources, including nuclear weapons testing or other activities during service.
• Toxic embedded fragments: Some Iraq and Afghanistan veterans were exposed to a blast or similar traumatic incident that resulted in embedded fragments (also called “shrapnel”) that remained in their bodies. The word “toxic” refers to fragments made from potentially harmful materials used in improvised explosive devices (IEDs), bombs, mines and shells.
A health registry evaluation is not a claim for VA benefits and may not confirm exposure to environmental hazards during military service. Veterans who want to be considered for disability compensation for exposure-related health problems must file a claim.
To schedule a registry evaluation, contact an environmental health coordinator at any VA medical facility. A list of coordinators is available online at www.publichealth.va.gov/exposures/coordinators.asp.
For the toxic embedded fragments registry, contact an OEF/OIF/OND clinical coordinator at your nearest VA medical facility to schedule a registry evaluation.
To be considered for disability compensation, you must file a claim. VA will check military records to verify exposure to the claimed environmental hazard and qualifying military service. Visit www.benefits.va.gov/compensation/types-disability.asp.
- A PDF brochure from the VA for the above info is here: https://www.publichealth.va.gov/docs/exposures/registry-evaluation-brochure.pdf#
- A VA Public Health “Pocket Card” for clinicians is here: https://www.publichealth.va.gov/docs/exposures/environmental-exposure-pocket-card.pdf#
Of course, we all know that they left at least one major type exposure off the list –
Groundwater Contamination and Soil Vapor Intrusion: Exposures to toxins (TCE, PCE, benzene, vinyl chloride) in the water supplies at bases such as Camp Lejeune through ingestion, inhalation or skin absorption at significantly high levels over prolonged periods of time.
And coming soon…they’ll probably need to add this one –
PFOS/PFOA: Exposure to chemical agents in base firefighting foams.