Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Are You or Your Client an "Atomic Veteran?"

The Veterans' Advisory Board on Dose Reconstruction (vbdc website) has some useful information for Veterans of a  certain period:
"An "Atomic Veteran" is specifically defined in legislation as a Veteran who, as part of his or her military service:
  • participated in an above-ground nuclear test, 1945 – 1962; OR
  • was part of the U.S. military occupation forces in or around Hiroshima or Nagasaki before August 1946; OR
  • in some cases, was held as a POW in or near Hiroshima or Nagasaki.
If you are an Atomic Veteran and you have developed one of several specific cancers or nonmalignant conditions, you may be eligible for compensation and⁄or free Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) medical care. If you had a qualifying cancer or condition that was cured or removed, you may still be entitled to compensation if you have residual disability from the condition or its treatments. This compensation would be in the form of a partial or full service-connected disability allowance, including potential payments to your surviving spouse or children. The compensation is because you may have been exposed to ionizing radiation during your military service and that exposure may have caused your cancer or condition.

What should I do if I think I am an Atomic Veteran and think my health has been affected by my military service radiation exposure?

You have three choices:
This website (www.vbdr.org) has additional information that may help you better understand the compensation program and appropriate contacts. Established by the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) and VA at the request of Congress, the goal of the Veterans' Advisory Board on Dose Reconstruction (VBDR) is to improve the compensation program for Atomic Veterans.
In filing a claim with VA, you need to provide sufficient information about when and where you participated in military service, but you do not need to have information about the radiation dose you received.
Claims may also be filed by surviving spouses and qualifying children who believe that a Veteran's death was due to exposure to ionizing radiation during military service. ..."
Now, what does this mean to representing veterans? It means that you have to asked. Some atomic veterans may not introduce the subject to you in the ordinary course of representation, and may have either forgotten or given up on the possibility of a claim, not realizing that as a result of more recent legislation the door may be open to to some benefits. So if your client is of the relevant age, just ask!

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