Exposure to Environmental Hazards

Exposure to Environmental HazardsAs a Veteran, you may have been exposed to a range of chemical, physical, and environmental hazards during military service. You may be entitled to disability compensation if these military exposures resulted in a disease or injury. Read about the types of service that may have resulted in exposure to certain hazards.

Gulf War Syndrome

If you served in Southwest Asia from August 2, 1990 to the present, you may be entitled to presumptive service connection for certain illnesses.  These Veterans include those who served in operations such as Desert Shield, Desert Storm, Iraqi Freedom, Enduring Freedom, and New Dawn.  These veterans may have been exposed to environmental hazards such as burn pits and oil well fires.  These exposures may lead to an “undiagnosed illness” or certain “medically unexplained chronic multisymptom illnesses.”  Sometimes these illnesses are referred to as the Gulf War Syndrome.

What does the VA mean by an “undiagnosed illness” or “medically unexplained chronic multisymptom illnesses”?

An “undiagnosed illness” is a condition that cannot be diagnosed by a physician or that cannot be attributed to a known clinical diagnosis. Signs and symptoms of an undiagnosed illness include fatigue; unexplained rashes; headaches; muscle pain; joint pain; respiratory disorders; cardiovascular signs or symptoms; abnormal weight loss; and menstrual disorders.  Medically unexplained chronic multisymptom illnesses include fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, and irritable bowel syndrome. These symptoms or illnesses do not need to start during service but must have existed for 6 months or more.

The rules governing the Gulf War Illness presumption are confusing and frequently misapplied by the VA.  The Law Office of Edward M. Farmer understands these rules and can help win your VA disability appeal.  Contact us now.

Burn Pits & Particulate Matter Exposure

The VA has acknowledged that from 2001, the United States military created large burn pits to dispose of waste in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Djibouti.  The VA recognized that the burn pits such as the one at Joint Base Balad released toxic substances that could have been inhaled or ingested by troops.  The VA has also acknowledged that veterans who served in Iraq, Afghanistan, or Djibouti were exposed to increased levels of particulate matter from sand and dust storms.  Particulate matter passes through the throat and nose and enters the lungs which can cause serious health effects.

What evidence must I show to be service-connected for burn pit or particulate matter exposure?

  1. You must have a disability or symptoms due to exposure to burn pits or particulate matter. Exposure in and of itself is not a disability.  Respiratory, cardiopulmonary, neurological, autoimmune, and skin disorders are some of the disabilities that may be associated with burn pit and particulate matter exposure.
  2. The evidence must show exposure to burn pits or particulate matter. Given the widespread nature of burn pits, your statement of burn pit exposure will alone be sufficient to establish the occurrence if you served in Iraq, Afghanistan, or Djibouti.
  3. Your disability or symptoms must be due to your exposure to burn pits or particulate matter.

Camp Lejeune Contaminated Drinking Water

In the early 1980s, at the Marine Corps Base in Lejeune, North Carolina, it was discovered that two on-base water-supply systems were contaminated with trichloroethylene (TCE), a metal degreaser, and perchloroethylene (PCE), a dry cleaning agent.  Benzene, vinyl chloride, and other compounds were also found to be contaminating the water-supply systems. These water systems served the housing, administrative, recreational facilities, and the hospital on Camp Lejeune. The water systems were contaminated from August 1953 through December 1987.

There is evidence of an association between certain diseases and the chemical compounds found at Camp Lejeune during the period of contamination.

Camp Lejeune presumptive diseases

The Department of Veterans Affairs has established a presumption of service connection for eight diseases associated with exposure to contaminants in the water supply at Camp Lejeune, N.C. Active duty, reserve, and National Guard members who served at Camp Lejeune or MCAS New River, N.C. for a minimum of 30 days (cumulative) from August 1, 1953, through December 31, 1987, may be eligible for disability benefits.

The medical evidence must show you have a current disease on the list of presumptive conditions related to Camp Lejeune. The presumptive diseases are:

  • Adult leukemia
  • Aplastic anemia and other myelodysplastic syndromes
  • Bladder cancer
  • Kidney cancer
  • Liver cancer
  • Multiple myeloma
  • Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, and
  • Parkinson’s disease

Edward M. Farmer is a U.S. Army veteran and an attorney. The majority of his career has been dedicated to assisting veterans with legal issues nationwide. Call toll-free at 1 (800) 700-4174

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