Veterans who have been saying for years that they were exposed to toxic matter while serving in the Gulf are finally getting a bit of good news.
The VA has decided to cut hurdles for veterans and will begin paying claims.
For now, the VA will process disability claims for asthma, sinusitis and rhinitis that resulted from certain toxic exposures.
Veterans who served in areas like Iraq and Afghanistan have long alleged that they got sick from toxins in the air that were spread from sandstorms and burn pits.
These toxins led to service members having breathing issues and illness.
According to a burn pit registry from back in 2014, over 200,000 vets stated they got ill from toxins in the air. But up until now, the VA has refused to help many of them.
Thankfully claims are now beginning to process with the expanded benefit, which has the potential to impact 3.5 million veterans.
“We have already paid over 4,000 claims, millions of dollars to veterans who are eligible on this new basis,” said Beth Murphy, executive director of compensation services for the VA.
The claims are not limited to burn pit exposure.
She said “this is even broader than that, we are not requiring folks to specify what they may have been exposed to. If you know you have asthma, sinusitis or rhinitis certainly please file a claim or if you have been denied in the past please reapply with a supplemental claim.”
“We’ve made it too hard for them to prove what they were exposed to, when, how long,” said U.S. Representative Elaine Luria from Virginia’s 2nd district.via WRIC
Historically the VA has been slow to act on paying out claims to veterans. They wait for the results of research and studies before they are willing to move forward.
This has left many veterans feeling frustrated with the Department.
However the VA and Congress finally appear to be signaling a policy change and a desire to help vets while they wait for more data to come in.
If you’d like to file a claim with the VA, you can do so at www.va.gov or call toll-free at 1-800-827-1000.