Which groups of veterans were exposed to mustard gas?

By Shaniqua Williams

Posted on January 25th, 2021

Veterans who were in contact with mustard gas or lewisite and developed a disease as a consequence of exposure are now eligible for compensation from the VA, for which they can apply with the help of a specialized attorney. Because the process of filing a claim is quite complex and challenging, the assistance of a lawyer is essential.

Belonging to a class of organic compounds, mustard gas is a chemical warfare agent, exposure to which can lead to the development of numerous terrible diseases. The class of organic compounds mustard gas is a part of includes sulfur mustard and nitrogen mustard. Lewisite is another toxic agent from this class. It is a vesicant, meaning that exposure to lewisite causes blistering, as well as a lung irritant. Another noteworthy aspect concerning lewisite is that it contains arsenic. These gases, whose color ranges from yellow to brown, have the smell of garlic, mustard, or horseradish. However, they can also be found in liquid form as thick and odorless substances. Veterans who were in contact with mustard gas or lewisite, regardless of the form it had, and developed a disease as a consequence of exposure are now eligible for compensation from the VA, for which they can apply with the help of a specialized attorney.

What groups of veterans were exposed to mustard gas or lewisite?

It is important to know that, during the 1940s, the Department of Defense recruited volunteer soldiers for experiments involving mustard gas to assess clothing, ointments, and equipment whose purpose was to protect U.S. troops from mustard gas attacks. As a result, nearly 60,000 members of the military were exposed to mustard gas in moderate amounts, whereas 4,000 others were subject to severe exposure to this dangerous chemical agent. However, since the 1990s, the VA has been striving to inform the veterans who participated in these experiments of the benefits they can obtain, such as disability compensation. Both veterans who served in the Army and in the Navy were exposed to mustard gas.

People who were in the U.S. Army and served in the following places were most likely exposed to mustard gas and lewisite:

  • Bari, Italy
  • Bushnell, FL
  • Camp Lejeune, NC
  • Camp Sibert, AL
  • Dugway Proving Ground, UT
  • Edgewood Arsenal, MD
  • Naval Research Lab, Washington, DC
  • Ondal, India
  • Rocky Mountain Arsenal, CO
  • San Jose Island, Panama Canal Zone

Similarly, former members of the U.S. Navy who were on active duty in the places below may have been exposed to mustard gas or lewisite:

  • Bari, Italy
  • Camp Lejeune, NC
  • Charleston, SC
  • Great Lakes Naval Training Center, IL
  • Hart's Island, NY
  • Naval Training Center, Bainbridge, MD
  • Naval Research Laboratory, VA
  • Naval Research Laboratory, Washington, DC
  • USS Eagle Boat 58

Furthermore, veterans who took part in testing in Finschhafen, New Guinea, and Porton Down, England were also in contact with mustard gas and are thereby entitled to compensation as well if they came to struggle with a related disease or health issue. Select merchant seamen were also exposed to this dangerous agent in Bari, Italy. They are also eligible for disability compensation from the VA if they developed a disease as a result of exposure.

The requirements of the VA for applying for disability compensation if you received a diagnosis related to mustard gas exposure after you were part of a testing experiment are:

  • you must have volunteered for research involving chemical and biological testing between 1942 and 1975
  • you must have a disease that is the direct cause of exposure to mustard gas that occurred during the testing

It is important to keep in mind that the above criteria apply only to veterans who were involved in mustard gas testing and subsequently developed a related disease. Veterans who were exposed to this hazardous chemical in other circumstances and came to suffer from a disease as a consequence can also receive compensation from the VA. However, because the process of properly filing a claim is quite complex and challenging, the assistance of a lawyer who specializes in toxic exposure is essential. They will be able to obtain the maximum compensation you are entitled to from the VA, as they have the necessary resources and knowledge. Moreover, if you were exposed to other toxic agents while on active duty, the sum of money the VA will give you will increase. Nevertheless, only a lawyer and their legal experts will be able to help you determine whether you were in contact with other dangerous substances while serving in the military.

What diseases can exposure to mustard gas cause?

While exposure to mustard gas is associated with a wide range of diseases and health issues, there are only some that have a definitive correlation with this hazardous agent. These are also the diseases and health problems that the VA recognizes as occurring as a consequence of mustard gas exposure and for which they give disability compensation. The following diseases make you eligible as a veteran for receiving disability compensation from the VA:

  • chronic conjunctivitis
  • keratitis
  • corneal opacities
  • acute nonlymphocytic leukemia
  • nasopharyngeal cancer
  • laryngeal cancer
  • squamous cell carcinoma of the skin
  • lung cancer
  • chronic laryngitis
  • scars
  • chronic bronchitis
  • emphysema
  • asthma
  • chronic obstructive pulmonary disease

It is important to keep in mind that you can file a VA claim for other diseases that you believe are the result of exposure to mustard gas. These claims will be assessed by the VA on a case-by-case basis. Once again, the assistance of a lawyer who specializes in toxic exposure cases is crucial, as they will be able to gather all the necessary evidence to support your claim so that it will result in the maximum compensation available for your health problem.

We provide quality legal assistance to veterans injured by mustard gas exposure

In the unfortunate event that you were exposed to mustard gas or lewisite while on active duty and subsequently developed a disease or a health condition, we strongly encourage you to contact our law firm, as we specialize in toxic exposure cases. With over 25 years of experience in pursuing compensation on behalf of toxic exposure victims, our attorneys will gladly listen to you and file a VA claim for you so that you can obtain the maximum compensation you deserve for your disability. Furthermore, our team also has experts who can determine whether you were exposed to other hazardous agents while serving in the military, in which case your claim will result in a larger sum of money. While complex and tedious, the legal process will require minimal involvement on your part, as you will only have to send your lawyer your military and medical records, documents that will be used to support your claim. For additional information, do not hesitate to contact our law firm and we will promptly answer your questions.