Are you a Veteran who served in Operation Iraqi Freedom? If so, there are new benefits available to those Veterans who were exposed to Iraq burn pits during their service. Thankfully, we know much more about respiratory diseases and cancers today than we did even 20 years ago. And the VA has now recognized that Veteran exposure to smoke and fumes in these Iraq burn pits has caused some serious respiratory issues for our Veterans.
You may have seen articles or photos about these Iraq burn pits that were prevalent during Operation Iraqi Freedom. These burn pits would include fumes from burning trash or debris and even fuel from burning aircraft or oilfields. In addition, the sandstorms and dust storms in Iraq have been proven to be a primary cause of lingering respiratory issues for Veterans.
Veterans advocates like ourselves have been jumping up and down for years trying to convince the VA to recognize these hazards that were experienced during Operation Iraqi Freedom. Our brave men and women fought for years over there and were exposed to some pretty terrible things. Now the day has finally come where the VA has recognized that the hazards of these Iraq burn pits have created long-term health issues for Veterans.
We’ll discuss all the qualifications for these new VA disability benefits, starting with the areas of service. These benefits apply to Veterans who served in the Southwest Asia Theater of Operations. Specifically, this includes Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, the neutral zone between Iraq and Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Oman, Gulf of Aden, Gulf of Oman, Arabian Sea, and the Red Sea.
Cancers Related to Iraq Burn Pits
The next qualification refers to a set of 9 respiratory diseases and cancers defined by the VA. If you have experienced or been diagnosed with any of these, you may qualify.
• Squamous Cell Carcinoma of the Larynx
• Squamous Cell Carcinoma of the Trachea
• Adenocarcinoma of the Trachea
• Salivary Gland-type Tumors of the Trachea
• Adenosquamous Carcinoma of the Lung
• Large Cell Carcinoma of the Lung
• Salivary Gland-type Tumors of the Lung
• Sarcomatoid Carcinoma of the Lung
• Typical and Atypical Carcinoid of the Lung
In addition to these cancers of the larynx, trachea, and the lungs, there also other health conditions or diagnoses that apply. If you developed asthma, rhinitis, or other sinus problems within the last 10 years of your separation of service, you may also be entitled to compensation.
Requirements for VA DIC Compensation
Remember that even though these conditions or cancers may be presumed if you were exposed to Iraq burn pits, you still have to apply for VA Disability Indemnity Compensation (DIC) and navigate their maze of rules and regulations. In a previous blog, we discussed three things you must demonstrate to qualify for VA Disability Indemnity Compensation. But for clarity sake, we’ll recap those briefly here.
#1 You need a medical diagnosis for one of those nine cancers, asthma, or other respiratory conditions defined by the VA as being related to Iraq burn pit exposure.
#2 There has been a connection between the diagnosis and your military service. The VA calls this a “nexus.” This basically means that you have to prove that you served in the Southwest Asia Theater of Operations during Operation Iraqi Freedom.
#3 You need medical evidence of your diagnosis. In this case, we would gather information from different oncologists who have seen you and submit that information to the VA.
These benefits not only apply to the Veterans who served in Operation Iraqi Freedom and were exposed to Iraq burn pits, but it also applies to the spouses of Veterans. If your spouse served during this time and passed due to one of the respiratory conditions listed above, you may be eligible for benefits. Even though the Veteran may have passed, you can still be successful with a VA disability claim. You just need that supporting evidence discussed in the three points above.
Registry for Iraq Burn Pit Exposure
There is also an online burn pit registry where you can document your exposure to Iraq burn pits and other respiratory hazards during your service. This information helps the VA determine the effects of such exposures so they can create benefits for those Veterans who are suffering from respiratory-related illnesses.
We hope we have helped to shed some new light on this Iraq burn pit news for you as a Veteran or the spouse of a Veteran. There’s a lot of different information out there on this subject, and we’re passionate about providing you the details you need to get the benefits you deserve. We believe that your service was invaluable to our country. We also believe that the spouses are just as important because they kept things settled on the home front during your service.
Contact Us So We Can Help
If you need assistance qualifying for VA disability benefits, please don’t hesitate to contact us at (229-226-8183) or send an email to [email protected]. You can also COMPLETE THIS FORM and we’ll contact you to schedule an appointment. If you’d like to see this blog in video format, you can watch it below. Please be sure to SUBSCRIBE to our YouTube channel and click the bell notification button so that you’re notified each time we publish a new video.