Army Offers Medical Help for Veterans Injured in Chem-Bio Agent Tests

FILE -- Close-up of a soldier in gas mask and protective cloth permeable helmet at Chemical Warfare decontamination demonstration at Fort Bliss, Tx. (Sept. 7, 1944) (Signal Corps Photo via Center of Military History) | By Matthew Cox

The U.S. Army is notifying veterans that they may be eligible to receive medical care if they participated in chemical or biological substance testing from 1942 to 1975.

Following a recent class-action lawsuit filed by the Vietnam Veterans of America, the service must provide medical care to veterans who volunteered to contribute to the advancement of the U.S. biological and chemical programs, according to a Nov. 6 Army Medical Command press release.

The Government Accountability Office found that the U.S. military conducted three secret military research projects between 1942 and 1975, according to a March 9, 1993, GAO report.

Neither the Army nor the Navy maintained records for all personnel involved in mustard agent testing during World War II, according to the GAO.

Prior to July 1992, a veteran had to prove that his disability was service-connected or a result of injuries or disease incurred during a period of military service, and the Department of Veterans Affairs disallowed many claims because veterans could not provide evidence of having been injured by mustard gas exposure, according to the GAO.

To be eligible for medical care, according to the Army Medical Command, veterans who may fall within this identified class must have:

• A Department of Defense Form 214 or War Department discharge/separation form(s) or the functional equivalent.

• Served as a volunteer medical research subject in a U.S. Army chemical or biological substance testing program from 1942 to 1975, including the receipt of medications or vaccines under the Army investigational drug review.

• A diagnosed medical condition they believe to be a direct result of their participation in an Army chemical or biological substance testing program.

Medical care, to include medications, will be provided at the closest military medical treatment facility that has the capability and capacity.

Care will be provided on a space-available basis for a specific period of time as described in the authorization letter, and is supplemental to the comprehensive medical care a plaintiff is entitled to receive through the VA based on their status as a veteran, according to the release.

Eligible veterans are encouraged to go to or call 1-800-984-8523 if they have any questions or need assistance, according to the release.

-- Matthew Cox can be reached at