Friday, November 11, 2011

Aid for "Atomic Veterans" and Veterans Exposed to Radiation

Today we honor veterans who have put themselves in harm's way to defend our country.  One of the little-known harms has been the danger of atomic radiation, particularly between 1945, in the invention and deployment of the first atomic weapons, and bomb testing afterwards, roughly until 1962.  Some have been exposed even more recently.  Many do not know that there is compensation available for the harm done to soldiers who suffered and continue to suffer the ill effects of radiation poisoning, as well as their survivors.

The VA has a page that explains compensation available to those affected.  Essentially, if you fall into the definition of exposed military personnel, and have an other than dishonorable discharge, and have suffered illnesses from radiation, you are eligible.  There are 22 "presumptive illnesses"--illnesses that if you were in the exposed groups, and if you have one of these illnesses, it is presumed it came from the exposure.  If you are the surviving spouse, child, or dependent parent of someone who was exposed and died from the illness, you may be eligible for survivor's benefits.  If you have suffered from some other form of cancer, you may be examined to see if you qualify for medical coverage and benefits, too.   In these instances, your determination will be made on a case-by-case basis. Besides medical coverage, exposed veterans may get either a lump sum or monthly cash payment. 

Among the many sources of help are these toll-free numbers: 1-800-827-1000 or 1-800-829-4833 (for the hearing impaired), the National Association of Atomic Veterans, and NAAV's page on how to file a claim.

Outside of the military, there is also compensation available for people who worked in mining uranium, or lived downwind of test sites and suffered harm to their health.  Get information on this from this Department of Justice site.

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