Veterans exposed to airborne hazards during active duty should sign up for the VA’s new burn pit registry. This registry makes it easier and faster to document potential exposure to airborne hazards while deployed overseas. Many health conditions linked to exposure to burn pits now count as service-connected disabilities.
IMPORTANT: VA disability compensation provides tax-free monthly payments if you have a health condition caused by exposure to burn pits or other specific hazards in the air, soil, or water during your service.
If you’re concerned by your exposure to the smoke created by open burn pits, then you may qualify for payments. On August 2, 2022, Congress passed the PACT Act. This law provides veterans exposed to toxins on the battlefield easy access to both medical care and extra benefits. Experts called this law the largest health care and benefit expansion in the VA’s history. Keep reading for more information about how to receive the benefits you deserve.
Which Veterans Are Most at Risk from Airborne Hazard Exposure?
An “airborne hazard” is any particle contaminant or toxic substance floating through the air you breathed in during overseas service. While on active duty, military service members were often exposed to a variety of different types of airborne hazards. Some examples would include both the smoke and fumes coming from open burn pits.
Open-air burning of trash and other waste was common in the following countries and locations:
- Areas of Southwest Asia
- Near the Naval Air Facility at Atsugi, Japan
Many vets today may experience health effects related to this exposure. As a result, the VA created its burn pit registry to track and treat those issues in affected veterans. Experts at the VA are studying airborne hazards such as burn pits and other military environmental exposures. It’s important to know that many health conditions related to these hazards are only temporary. Some conditions, however, last much longer and are far more serious.
Am I Eligible for Additional VA Benefits?
You must meet all three of the following requirements:
- Your doctor diagnosed an illness or other health condition caused by exposure to a specific toxin in the air, soil, or water, and
- You served on active duty in a location that directly exposed you to the hazard, and
- You did NOT receive a dishonorable discharge.
Getting a disability rating may also help you qualify for VA health care and other benefits. The conditions that the VA connected to burn pits and other toxins in Afghanistan, Iraq, and certain other areas are called “presumptive conditions.” Those conditions automatically qualify for monthly VA disability compensation.
Why Should I Sign Up for the Burn Pit Registry?
To make things easier, the VA created an Airborne Hazards and Open Burn Pit Registry mobile app. This should help service members and veterans document potential exposure to airborne hazards while deployed overseas. It also creates as a secure database of health information voluntarily provided by service members and vets.
The burn pit registry helps VA collect data on health conditions related to environmental exposures that occur during active deployment. Before you do anything else, you should complete the burn pit registry questionnaire. Then, you may schedule an appointment to discuss your toxic exposures and specific health concerns with an approved doctor or clinic.
IMPORTANT: Participation in the burn pit registry won’t affect access to health care or benefits. It is not related to the VA disability compensation claims process.
Originally, the VA created this registry back in 2014. It helps the agency better understand the potential health effects of exposure to airborne hazards during military service. Signing up provides information that can help the VA provide better care for all vets.
Presumptive Conditions for Airborne Hazards and Burn Pit Exposures
The following are presumptive conditions the VA tracks in its burn pit registry database. In other words, the VA presumes these health issues arise specifically from burn pit exposure. So, if you have one of these conditions, you won’t need to prove your time in the service caused it. You only need to meet the service requirements for the VA to approve each of the following conditions for PACT Act benefits:
- Brain cancer
- Gastrointestinal cancer of any type
- Head cancer of any type
- Kidney cancer
- Lymphatic cancer of any type
- Lymphoma of any type
- Neck cancer
- Pancreatic cancer
- Reproductive cancer of any type
- Squamous cell carcinoma of either the larynx or trachea
- Adenocarcinoma of the trachea
- Salivary gland-type tumors of the trachea
- Adenosquamous carcinoma of the lung
- Large cell lung carcinoma
- Salivary gland-type tumors of the lung
- Sarcomatoid carcinoma of the lung
- Typical and atypical carcinoid of the lung
- Respiratory (breathing-related) cancer of any type
- Asthma diagnosed after service
- Chronic bronchitis
- Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
- Chronic rhinitis
- Chronic sinusitis
- Constrictive bronchiolitis or obliterative bronchiolitis
- Granulomatous disease
- Interstitial lung disease (ILD)
- Pulmonary fibrosis
You May Qualify for Legal Assistance
Still have questions about how the burn pit registry applies to your PACT Act claim? The VA began processing those claims on Jan 1, 2023. We can connect you with VA-accredited attorneys available to assist you for free during weekday business hours.
Want free expert help getting the most VA benefits you deserve? Click the button below now to see if you may qualify:
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Laura Schaefer is the author of The Teashop Girls, The Secret Ingredient, and Littler Women: A Modern Retelling. She is also an active co-author or ghostwriter of several nonfiction books on personal and business development. Laura currently lives in Windermere, Florida with her husband and daughter and works with clients all over the world. Visit her online at lauraschaeferwriter.com and linkedin.com.