VA Health Care: Radiation Exposure

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Veterans who claim exposure to atomic radiation are provided with free, comprehensive medical examinations, including laboratory and other diagnostic tests deemed by an examining physician necessary to determine health status. Results of the examinations, which include review of the veteran's military service and exposure history, are entered into special, computerized databases, called registries. These databases assist the VA in analyzing the types of health conditions being reported by veterans. Registry participants are advised of the results of their examinations in personal consultations. Veterans wishing to participate should contact the nearest VA health care facility for an examination.

Radiation Exposure Treatment

Health care services are available for medical conditions the VA recognizes as related to a veteran's exposure to ionizing radiation from the detonation of a nuclear device in connection with nuclear tests, or with the American occupation of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan, during the period beginning Sep. 11, 1945, and ending July 1, 1946. Veterans exposed to ionizing radiation while on active duty may be eligible for disability compensation if they have disabilities related to that exposure. To determine service-connection, factors considered include amount of radiation exposure, duration of exposure, and elapsed time between exposure and onset of the disease. Conditions presumed to be service connected are:

  • All forms of leukemia (except for chronic lymphocytic leukemia)
  • Cancer of the thyroid, breast, pharynx, esophagus, stomach, small intenstine, pancreas, bile ducts, gall bladder, salivary gland, urinary tract, multiple myeloma
  • Primary liver cancer
  • Lymphomas other than Hodgkin's disease

See the VA's website for details.

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