In addition to veterans who came to struggle with a disease as a result of exposure to toxic substances and the use of defective products, there are certain groups of people who served in the military who also qualify for receiving disability compensation and other benefits from the United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).
The U.S. government recognizes that veterans deserve compensation for any health condition they developed from specific events during their military service. Consequently, various benefits may be available to veterans and their families through the VA. The first step in determining whether a person is qualified for VA disability benefits or compensation is determining whether the person meets the VA's definition of "veteran".
There are varying criteria for individuals to claim veteran status. The 38 Code of Federal Regulations defines a veteran as "a person who served in the active military, naval, or air service and who was discharged or released under conditions other than dishonorable".
These categories of veterans are also eligible for benefits from the VA
Today, many active-duty military personnel and veterans came to struggle with a disease as a consequence of:
In addition to them, there are certain groups of people who served in the military who also qualify for receiving disability compensation and other benefits from the VA, such as the following:
- Elderly veterans - As of 2019, there are over 11 million veterans above the age of 65 living in the United States, which is about 61% of all veterans. As they get older, veterans' medical needs are likely to change and they may need a higher level of care. It is for this reason that the Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) offers a variety of programs geared to meet the needs of elderly veterans such as financial benefits, home healthcare options, and community-based care.
- Gulf War veterans - Like all veterans, disabled veterans who served in the Gulf War since its start on August 2, 1990, are eligible for disability compensation for health problems associated with Gulf War service during Operation Desert Shield from August 2, 1990, to January 16, 1991; Operation Desert Storm from August 2, 1990, to January 16, 1991; Operation Iraqi Freedom from March 2003 to August 2010; or Operation New Dawn from September 2010 to December 2011.
- Homeless veterans - It has been estimated that one-third of homeless men and nearly one-quarter of all homeless adults have served in the Armed Forces. Just like any other veteran, homeless veterans may be eligible for a wide variety of benefits available to all U.S. military veterans, including health care, home loans, insurance, vocational rehabilitation and employment, and burial. The VA offers a number of services to veterans who are homeless or at imminent risk of becoming homeless from housing assistance to mental health assistance.
- Incarcerated veterans - Veterans who are incarcerated in a federal, state, or local penal institution, may be eligible for certain benefits offered by the Department of Veterans Affairs, but the amount paid depends on the reason for incarceration and type of benefit.
- Korean War veterans - Approximately 5.7 million Americans served during the Korean conflict (June 27, 1950, to January 31, 1955). Today an estimated 2 million Korean veterans are still living. As a Korean War Veteran, a senior could be eligible for a wide variety of benefits available to all U.S. military veterans. The veteran must have served at least 90 days of active duty, with at least one day in one of the major branches of the United States military during an eligible period of war.
- Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender veterans - The VA recognizes the existing diversity within this population, including the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) community, thus, it provides health care and veteran outreach services for LGBT veterans, if they served prior to September 7, 1980, in the active military, naval, or air service and didn't receive a dishonorable discharge.
- Minority veterans - As required by Congress in 1994, the VA offers much support to all service members and veterans regardless of race or ethnicity and provides several services to address their specific issues. Needlessly stigmatized in the past, many minority veterans are unaware of the benefits that they are entitled to. These veterans include the following minority groups: Asian American, African American, Hispanic/Latino, and Native American, including American Indian, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian.
- Former prisoners of war - Based on studies of the long-term effects of captivity, deprivation, trauma, and cold injury on former prisoners of wars, certain conditions are presumed to be related to their time in captivity. Veterans who became at least 10% disabled as a result of their time spent as a prisoner of war can qualify for VA disability compensation, VA hospital, and nursing care, and outpatient treatment, according to the Former Prisoners of War Benefits Act, passed by Congress in 1981.
- Veterans living abroad - Not all service members who retire or separate from the Army, Navy, Air Force, or Marine Corps decide to start a new life in the civilian sector in the United States. Some decide to remain overseas/abroad or return to a favorite overseas/abroad location instead of going back home. If you're a veteran of the U.S. Armed Forces who lives abroad, you remain entitled to the benefits and services you earned through your military service.
- Vietnam War veterans - Disabled veterans who served in the Vietnam War between February 28, 1961, to May 7, 1975, qualify for a variety of VA benefits. Vietnam War veterans are eligible for benefits that are available to all U.S. military veterans, including but not limited to disability compensation for service-connected disabilities, such as post-traumatic stress disorder and amputations, pension, health care, education and training, loans, insurance, and burial.
- World War II veterans - Around 16 million American military personnel served in World War II (December 7, 1941, to December 31, 1946), and many of them are now receiving disability compensation from the VA. WWII veterans with persisting illnesses and physical difficulties are entitled to a number of benefits including health care, disability compensation, pension, home loans, education and training, insurance, rehabilitation, employment, and burial. To qualify for health care benefits and monthly compensation from the VA, a WWII veteran must have served at least 90 days of active duty in one of the major branches of the United States military, with at least one day during the WWII war period of December 7, 1941, to December 31, 1946.
The VA recognizes that certain illnesses and conditions are caused directly by or aggravated by military service
The VA provides benefits to veterans who were exposed to specific environmental hazards in air, water, or soil, chemical weapons agents, and/or nuclear radiation while performing their duties.
Currently, there are six health registries that exist for veterans who have had exposure to certain chemical, physical, and environmental hazards during military service:
- Agent Orange Registry
- Airborne Hazards and Open Burn Pit Registry
- Gulf War Registry
- Ionizing Radiation Registry
- Depleted Uranium Follow-Up Program
- Toxic Embedded Fragment Surveillance Center
The VA has established the above-mentioned health registry programs to track and monitor the health of specific groups of veterans and to respond to these health problems more effectively. A veteran might be eligible to participate in one or more of these registry evaluations. All of the six VA Environmental Health Registry Programs are separate and veterans should participate in as many registries as applicable.
If you are a veteran and in need of immediate assistance, please contact Environmental Litigation Group, P.C.