VA expands health care to those exposed to toxins, other hazards during service

Veterans who were exposed to toxins and other hazards while serving at home or abroad during conflicts dating back to the Vietnam War are now eligible to enroll in Veterans Affairs health care.

As of Tuesday, coverage now includes veterans exposed to toxins and hazards during the following conflicts and locations and who meet basic service and discharge requirements:

  • Vietnam War;
  • Gulf War;
  • Iraq;
  • Afghanistan;
  • Global War on Terror;
  • Any combat zone after Sept. 11, 2001;
  • Exposure while training or on active duty within the United States;
  • Veterans who participated in a toxic exposure risk activity (TERA) at home or abroad.

The VA says exposure to at least one of the following hazards or conditions during any of the above events participated in a TERA:

  • Air pollutants (burn pits, sand, dust, particulates, oil well fires, sulfur fires);
  • Chemicals (pesticides, herbicides, depleted uranium with embedded shrapnel, contaminated water);
  • Occupational hazards (asbestos, industrial solvents, lead, paints including chemical agent resistant coating and firefighting foams);
  • Radiation (nuclear weapons handling, maintenance and detonation, radioactive material, calibration and measurement sources, X-rays, radiation from military occupational exposure);
  • Warfare agents (nerve agents as well as chemical and biological weapons).

The expansion covers many veterans who never deployed but were still exposed to toxins or hazards during training or while serving in the U.S.

If you’d like to apply for VA health care, you can do so by CLICKING HERE or by visiting your county veteran service office. You can also call 1-800-MYVA411 to learn more about the expansion.