VA Proposes Additional Aid For "Atomic Veterans"
WASHINGTON, D.C. Veterans exposed to radiation during their military
service and diagnosed with cancer of the bone, brain, colon, lung, or
have an easier time applying for, and receiving compensation for their
if proposed regulatory changes are approved.
Hershel W. Gober, Acting Secretary of Veterans Affairs (VA), proposed
these cancers to the list of illnesses presumed to be connected to the
service of specific veterans, thereby lessening their burden of proof
"Veterans who were injured by radiation during their military service
receive fair and appropriate compensation," Gober said. "No less
who were wounded on the battlefield, they earned VA’s support and the
The proposed changes apply to those veterans who participated in
"radiation-risk activities" while on active duty, during active
for training or
inactive duty training as a member of a reserve component. Those
include the occupation of Hiroshima or Nagasaki, internment as a POW in
Japan, or onsite involvement in atmospheric nuclear weapons tests.
this group are frequently called "atomic veterans."
In 1988, Congress established a presumption of service connection for
different cancers in veterans exposed to "ionizing radiation," with
bringing the number to 16. Under provisions of the Radiation-Exposed
Compensation Act (Pub. L. 100-321), veterans are presumed to be service
connected if they participated in a radiation-risk activity and later
of the following diseases: leukemia (other than chronic lymphocytic
cancer of the thyroid, breast, pharynx, esophagus, stomach, small
pancreas, gall bladder, bile ducts, salivary gland, or urinary tract,
myeloma, lymphomas (except Hodgkin’s disease), primary cancer of the
(except if cirrhosis or hepatitis B is indicated), or
The proposed changes would also expand the definition of
activity" to include exposure to radiation related to underground
nuclear tests at
Amchitka Island, Alaska, prior to January 1, 1974, and service at
diffusion plants in Paducah, Ky., Portsmouth, Ohio, and Oak Ridge,
VA’s proposed changes ensure equity in the treatment of veterans and
civilians who are being provided benefits for the first time for health
caused be radiation. These changes bring veterans benefits up to the
standards used for civilians under the Radiation Exposure Compensation
(RECA) of 1990, as amended this year.
"When the way comes to an end, then change - having changed, you pass
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