The recently passed Forever GI Bill (Public Law 115-48), signed by the President on August 17, 2017, includes a provision that requires the VA to reconsider previously denied claims for World War II veterans who were exposed to nitrogen mustard gas, sulfur mustard gas or lewisite as a result of government testing.
The provision directs the VA to reconsider all previously denied mustard gas and lewisite exposure claims of World War II veterans who were exposed during tests at 22 recognized locations. The VA is instructed to consider that supporting documentation of the testing may be unavailable as these tests were classified, or the records may have been destroyed and veterans who participated were sworn to secrecy.
Unless there is evidence to establish otherwise, the VA is directed to presume full-body exposure of veterans who participated in these tests at the recognized locations and VA shall resolve any doubt in the veteran’s favor.
The acknowledgement of these exposures is significant as VA regulations list several presumptive diseases due to exposure to nitrogen mustard gas, sulfur mustard gas, and Lewisite. To see those diseases as listed in 38 C.F.R. 3.316, Click Here!
Sen. Claire McCaskill, the measure’s original sponsor, first introduced the legislation in 2016 and again at the start of 2017, when the 115th Congress convened in January. But it was not until the measure was appended to the Forever GI Bill that it made a significant move forward.
This provision of the law is in accordance with a long-standing resolution (DAV Resolution No. 025), which calls for the VA’s expeditious handling of veterans’ claims and the payment of fair and just compensation for conditions associated with all veterans’ service and related exposures to toxic and environmental hazards.
In the near future, the VA will implementing this reconsideration and will be reaching out to those veterans concerned. If you have any questions on the reconsideration of mustard gas claims for World War II veterans, please contact your local DAV National Service Office. To find your local NSO Office, Click Here! To view Public Law 115-48, Section 502, Click Here!
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