Burn Pits of the Vietnam War & Their Effects on Veterans

Burn Pits of the Vietnam War & Their Effects on Veterans

Many Veterans still feel the ramifications of the Vietnam War today. Most Americans already know about Agent Orange and how exposure to this toxic herbicide has led to many long-lasting health complications for Veterans.

However, Vietnam Veterans may also have been exposed to additional toxins and hazards during their tours of duty. In the Vietnam War, as in other wars and engagements following, the military may have used burn pits at several military locations. These hazardous waste removal sites spewed toxic chemicals into the air, which have led to medical complications for many Veterans.

Today, let’s break down the burn pits of the Vietnam War and explore their effects on Veterans. We’ll also discuss the claims process for VA disability benefits related to burn pit exposure.

Were There Burn Pits in the Vietnam War?

That’s tough to say. Much about the Vietnam War is still classified or is not publicly available. However, it is common knowledge that the US military has used burn pits in the past, most recently in countries like Iraq and Afghanistan.

Burn pits, in a nutshell, are open-air waste removal sites where the military burns:

  • Aluminum cans
  • Plastic and rubber
  • Human and medical waste
  • Toxic chemicals
  • Many other waste products

In doing this, the military made several harmful chemicals respirable by military members and civilians alike. There’s a high likelihood that the US military utilized burn pits in the Vietnam War at one point or another.

Those Veterans who served in or around burn pit sites may have developed complications or medical injuries due to exposure to these aerosolized toxins. Currently, there isn’t much public attention surrounding burn pits from the Vietnam War. That could change if Veterans speak out about the symptoms and illnesses suffered resulting from burn pit toxin exposure.

What Are the Effects of Burn Pit Exposure?

The most common burn pit exposure symptom is temporary irritation, specifically of the eyes, skin, and respiratory system. However, some Veterans have developed long-lasting or secondary complications due to burn pit exposure. More complicated illnesses and injuries developed primarily in Veterans exposed to burn pits for longer periods.

Veterans exposed to burn pit toxins have reported illnesses like bronchitis, sinusitis, asthma, and even cardiovascular disease. Vietnam Veterans may have been unknowingly exposed to the same toxins and developed their illnesses or injuries because of that exposure, not Agent Orange.

To date, there’s no full record of burn pit exposure victims from the Vietnam War. That doesn’t mean those victims don’t exist. If you believe that you suffered illnesses or injuries due to burn pit exposure during your service in Vietnam, you might be able to pursue legal recourse.

More importantly, you may be able to receive disability benefits from the VA by proving a link between your injury or illness and exposure to burn pit toxins.

How Veterans Can Get Help

America’s Vietnam Veterans deserve our utmost respect and disability benefits if they currently suffer from injuries or illnesses related to their service. Fortunately, there are many ways in which Veterans can receive the assistance they need.

Join the Airborne Hazards and Open Burn Pit Registry

First, if you believe you were exposed to toxins via burn pits in Vietnam, sign up for the Airborne Hazards and Open Burn Pit Registry. This registry is an important organization gathering medical information about Veterans exposed to burn pit hazards and toxins.

In doing so, the Registry helps to improve the medical knowledge of burn pit-related injuries and illnesses. Over time, the Registry hopes to add more injuries or illnesses to the presumptive conditions list used by the VA to award benefits to Veterans more quickly.

The Airborne Hazards and Open Burn Pit Registry further has a wealth of important information for Veterans to use, such as:

  • Symptoms lists
  • Lists of military sites known to have burn pits
  • Resource links to legal professionals or doctors
  • And more

Speaking of legal professionals, Veterans exposed to burn pits in Vietnam should not hesitate to speak to knowledgeable Veterans law attorneys.

Legal professionals can provide benefits such as:

  • Gathering important evidence on Veterans’ behalf
  • Helping Veterans file successful disability benefits applications
  • Helping Veterans overturn denied disability claims
  • And more

The right legal team may also be able to help you do research into Vietnam War military sites since burn pits from Vietnam are not well-documented like burn pits from Iraq and Afghanistan.

If you know that you were exposed to burn pit toxins but the military doesn’t have any records of a burn pit at your recorded service locations, lawyers may be able to help. 

File a Claim for VA Disability Benefits

Of course, Veterans of the Vietnam War are entitled to VA disability benefits for their service-related conditions regardless of whether they were due to burn pit exposure or not. But to qualify, Veterans will generally have to establish a link between their time in the service and their injury or illness.

For example, if you suffered a broken bone during combat, you can easily establish a link to your military service since you would not have received a broken bone were you not doing your duty.

Toxin-related health conditions are a little trickier to document. You’ll need:

  • Military records that show you stationed at a place with a burn pit or other toxic element.
  • Medical notes showing a diagnosis of an injury or illness.
  • Medical notes showing that your symptoms are related to the symptoms associated with the burn pit toxins or other toxic elements.

Luckily, Veterans law lawyers can help you file your claim quickly and accurately. This will reduce the likelihood of the VA denying your claim.

Who Qualifies for Burn Pit Benefits?

At the time of this writing, any Veterans who served in Iraq or Afghanistan or who served on certain bases during the Gulf War may qualify for benefits related to burn pit toxin exposure.

However, Vietnam Veterans may also be able to qualify for burn pit benefits if they:

  • Can prove a direct link between burn pit toxin exposure and their current injuries or illnesses.
  • Can prove that they were at a Vietnam military site that had a burn pit present or was likely to have had a burn pit.

Both can be difficult to prove, but knowledgeable Veterans law attorneys may be able to help. Veterans law lawyers can help you:

  • Get your military records to find a complete breakdown of all the places you were stationed. This is important because the Vietnam War ended several decades ago, and personal records can be lost.
  • Help you contact a knowledgeable medical professional who can provide a nexus link between your current condition or injury and the common side effects or symptoms of burn pit toxin exposure.

Many medical doctors and other personnel understand the risks associated with burn pit toxins. If they can analyze your injury or illness, they may be able to show through evidence that your injury or illness was likely caused due to toxin exposure at burn pits.

Once this evidence is gathered, your Veterans law lawyers can put that information into a package for your disability benefits application and walk you through the process. Even if the VA denies your application initially, your lawyers can help you through the appeals process and make sure you get the disability benefits you deserve.

Contact Berry Law for a Free Case Evaluation

The Vietnam War still affects many American Veterans to this day. If you believe that you have suffered or are suffering from a chronic condition or illness due to burn pit toxin exposure, you could have grounds for significant benefits via the VA. But if the VA hasn’t been very helpful so far, don’t give up.

Instead, contact Berry Law right away. As licensed and knowledgeable Veterans law attorneys, we may be able to help you get the benefits you deserve for your service to our country.

We can help you file a successful benefits claim, navigate the appeals process if your first claim was denied, and even determine whether your health condition is connected to burn pits during your service in Vietnam.

Contact us today for a free consultation and case evaluation.


Airborne Hazards and Burn Pit Exposures | Public Health

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How To File A VA Disability Claim | Veterans Affairs

Berry Law

The attorneys at Berry Law are dedicated to helping injured Veterans. With extensive experience working with VA disability claims, Berry Law can help you with your disability appeals.

This material is for informational purposes only. It does not create an attorney-client relationship between the Firm and the reader, and does not constitute legal advice. Legal advice must be tailored to the specific circumstances of each case, and the contents of this blog are not a substitute for legal counsel.

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