For Veterans who participated in a radiation-risk activity during service (including "Atomic Veterans"), the VA assumes that certain cancers could be related to that exposure. While the VA contends that the risk of diseases from military radiation exposure is low, they have conceded that any Veteran who served in any of the following situations or circumstances may have been exposed to radiation. As such, Veterans may be eligible for disability compensation and health care for these diseases and their dependents may be eligible for survivors' benefits.
Fukushima nuclear accident
March 12 to May 11, 2011, following a nuclear accident on March 11, 2011.
Radiation-risk activity (includes "Atomic Veterans")
Nuclear weapons testing and the American occupation of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
Military occupational exposure
Various military occupations, such as nuclear weapons technicians and dental technicians.
Veteran must have been involved in the live fire of depleted uranium munitions.
U.S. Coast Guard Veterans who worked at LORAN (Long Range Navigation) stations from 1942 to 2010.
McMurdo Station, Antarctica nuclear power plant
Veterans who served at the McMurdo Station, Antarctica, from 1964 to 1973.
Nasopharyngeal (nose and throat) radium irradiation treatments
Veterans treated ear damage from pressure changes from 1940s through 1960s.
Veterans treated for service connected cancer.
Presumptive diseases related to ionizing radiation
Cancers of the bile ducts, bone, brain, breast, colon, esophagus, gall bladder, liver (primary site, but not if cirrhosis or hepatitis B is indicated), lung (including bronchiolo-alveolar cancer), pancreas, pharynx, ovary, salivary gland, small intestine, stomach, thyroid, urinary tract (kidney/renal, pelvis, urinary bladder, and urethra) Leukemia (except chronic lymphocytic leukemia) Lymphomas (except Hodgkin’s disease) Multiple myeloma (cancer of plasma cells) Because the VA has conceded radiation exposure, these Veterans don't have to prove a connection between these diseases and their military service, but eligibility for disability compensation or survivors' benefits will depend on how much radiation the Veteran received and other factors, such as the period of time between exposure to radiation and the development of the disease. The VA decides these claims on a case-by-case basis and will also consider the possibility that other diseases not listed above were caused by radiation, if supported by medical or scientific evidence. To be eligible for compensation, VA must be able to establish that it is at least as likely as not (50/50 probability) that a Veteran’s disease was caused by his/her exposure to radiation during military service.
The Veteran’s' military records should contain records of radiation exposure or accounts describing duty-related exposure. Typically, Veterans and their survivors do not need to contact the Department of Defense (DoD) to confirm radiation exposure activity before applying for VA compensation benefits, because the VA will request this information from DoD when a Veteran or a Veteran's survivor applies for disability compensation or survivors' benefits for health problems associated with the exposure. The VA requests DoD’s Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) to confirm Atomic Veterans participation in U.S. atmospheric nuclear tests from 1945 to 1962 and the occupation forces of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan, through a program called the Nuclear Test Personnel Review. VA also asks DTRA to provide the actual or estimated radiation dose received by a Veteran when necessary. VA uses the DTRA report on LORAN radiation exposures to confirm the radiation dose assessment for Veterans who worked at LORAN stations. For Veterans exposed to radiation at Fukushima, the DoD's Operation Tomodachi Registry provides individual dose information. If you or your loved one was exposed to radiation and feel you have a disability claim to file with the VA, we encourage you to make an appointment with us to discuss your options (352) 689-4450.
-Rick Blair, CVSO Manager