K2 Air Base Veterans & Toxic Exposure

K2 Air Base Veterans & Toxic Exposure

It’s common for former US military Veterans in the Army, Air Force, and Marine Corps to develop health conditions and disabilities. 

Some Veterans may even realize they experience similar conditions and disabilities as fellow service members in the same area. K2 Air Base, also called Camp Stronghold Freedom, is one such location.

Unfortunately, Veterans who served at K2 may have been exposed to various toxic substances, leading to serious medical conditions. If you or a loved one served at K2 Air Base and believe you developed disabilities or health problems as a result, you could recover disability benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs. Read on for more information.

What Is the K2 Air Base?

The K2 Air Base, also called Karshi-Khanabad or Camp Stronghold Freedom, was a former Soviet air base located in the southeastern region of Uzbekistan. However, this site was occupied by the US military between 2001 and 2005. It was important in military operations due to its proximity near the Afghanistan border, so it often assisted with support missions during Operation Enduring Freedom.

Over the base’s lifespan, K2 Air Base saw more than 15,000 service members deployed. The military vacated the base in November 2005. Today, the Uzbek Air Force occupies it.

What Toxins May Have Been Present at the K2 Air Base?

Before its US military occupation, K2 housed various chemical weapons and toxic substances. These substances saturated the soil in the surrounding area, exposing many Veterans.

According to studies conducted by the Department of Defense in 2001, 2002, and 2004, the total list of toxic hazards at K2 includes:

  • Depleted uranium originating from Soviet-era missiles destroyed at the base before occupation
  • Asbestos
  • Jet fuel, kerosene, and further petrochemicals
  • Lead-based paint
  • Volatile organic compounds or VOCs. These originated from jet fuel vapors
  • Particulate dust and matter
  • Tetrachloroethylene
  • Cyanide
  • Burn pits. Notably, the VA did not include K2 Air Base in its burn pit registry, although visual inspections of this military site in 2004 reported open fires located near the base and living areas

New studies may uncover additional toxins or chemicals that Veterans may have been exposed to in the future.

Who Are K2 Veterans?

Per a recent Executive Order by former President Trump, K2 Veterans are any servicemembers on active duty in Uzbekistan who served at K2 Air Base between October 1, 2001, and December 31, 2005. Therefore, any Veterans with an illness caused or aggravated by exposure to toxic substances or radiation are entitled to medical services, nursing home care, and hospital care.

Unfortunately, the benefits and medical compensation situation is a little more complex. To date, all K2 Air Base Veterans are not automatically qualified for disability benefits under the VA. Still, it is possible to get disability compensation for your service-connected disabilities if you acquired them at K2 Air Base.

What Are Common Health Conditions Seen in K2 Veterans?

Over the years, K2 Veterans have developed several health complications and disabilities that may be related to toxin exposure at K2 Air Base.

According to the Stronghold Freedom Foundation, K2 Veterans have a 500% greater chance of developing cancer than other Veterans. 

75% of US service members deployed to Uzbekistan alone have developed at least one type of K2-related illness. Furthermore, approximately 392 unique chemical compounds were found at K2 Air Base in some capacity.

Some studies, such as an investigation in November 2001, found that inhaling vapor from fuel-contaminated soil could have had adverse health effects on K2 base personnel. 

Some of the most common health conditions experienced by K2 Veterans include neurological disorders and cancer. These cancers include bladder cancer, multiple myeloma, and more. These are almost universally related to radiation or toxin exposure. 

VA Disability Benefits and Toxin Exposure at K2 Air Base

The VA awards disability benefits to disabled or injured Veterans who have satisfied the necessary elements of service connection. That means their military service or duties directly led to them becoming injured or disabled. 

While many K2 Veterans have developed health complications during or after their military service, there is no conclusive medical proof that exposure to toxins at K2 Air Base led to the beginning of those health conditions. Because of this, simply having a K2 health condition is not enough to guarantee disability benefits or medical care under the VA.

That said, the VA does allow K2 Veterans to file disability benefits for healthcare compensation if they believe they are related to service at K2 Air Base. Instead of in other cases, such as for burn pit exposure or Agent Orange exposure, the VA decides these disability benefits claims on a case-by-case basis.

Therefore, it’s important not to assume you’ll receive disability benefits for K2 toxin exposure. You may indeed get disability compensation, but you’ll need the assistance of knowledgeable attorneys to strengthen your disability claim as much as possible.

What Should You Do if You Developed Health Complications at K2 Air Base?

If you or a loved one have developed health complications because of your time serving at K2 Air Base, knowing the next steps you should take is important.

First, get diagnosed by a licensed healthcare provider. Not only will this allow you to start receiving the medical treatment you need to recover or keep your illness at bay, but it will also serve as important evidence should you file a claim for disability benefits later. You should always try to get adequate treatment ASAP.

Next, you should read up on K2 exposure literature and stay up-to-date with all new studies and legislative pushes. Even though the VA does not currently count K2 exposure for presumptive service connection, this could change. 

More studies and social groups like the Stronghold Freedom Foundation are important to join so you can keep up to date on new developments.

In addition, you should consider filing a claim for disability benefits online. Even if you are denied, having filed a claim beforehand will serve as valuable evidence if you choose to appeal the decision later down the road or if the VA reverses its current decision. 

For instance, if the VA decides to award all K2 Veterans presumptive health coverage, and you previously filed a disability benefits claim, you could get your compensation more quickly.

To maximize your chances of getting a disability rating and disability compensation, you should contact Veterans law attorneys. The right attorneys can provide a variety of benefits to your claim, including:

  • Helping you determine what evidence you should gather, such as service records, medical records and diagnoses, lay statements from your friends and family members, and more. The more evidence you can provide supplementing your claim that your health complications did not begin until you served at K2 Air Base, the stronger your claim will be
  • Assisting with filing your claim properly without errors, like typos or missing pages. This will reduce the likelihood of any delays affecting your claim, plus maximize your chances of getting the highest disability rating possible

In addition to those benefits, Veterans law attorneys can help you appeal a denied claim for benefits. If the VA gives you a disability rating lower than what you deserve or need, you may also need to file an appeal. That will result in the VA taking a second look at your evidence and symptoms, potentially leading to a higher rating and more monthly compensation.

Don’t try to file for K2 Air Base disability benefits alone. Work with attorneys to give yourself the best chance at getting the disability benefits you need.

Contact Berry Law Today

Currently, the VA does not automatically consider health conditions in Veterans who served at K2 Air Base as service-connected by default. However, you may still qualify for disability benefits if you file a strong disability benefits claim.

At Berry Law, our knowledgeable attorneys are well-equipped and ready to assist with any disability benefits claim you file. We can help you gather sufficient evidence, help you prove that your health issues only developed after you started serving at K2 Air Base, and much more. We can even help you file an appeal for benefits if you were previously denied. 

Contact us today to get started.


Karshi Khanabad (K-2) Air Base – Public Health |

Evaluation of Postdeployment Cancers Among Active Duty Military Personnel | NCBI

K2 Facts | Stronghold Freedom Foundation

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.

Related Posts

The Top 4 Most Common Toxins Found at Military Bases
The Top 4 Most Common Toxins Found at Military Bases
Trichloroethylene Exposure in the Military
Trichloroethylene Exposure in the Military
PACT Act Expands Presumptive Conditions for Toxic Exposure
PACT Act Expands Presumptive Conditions for Toxic Exposure

Subscribe to our newsletter

The Service Connection

Our monthly newsletter features about important and up-to-date veterans' law news, keeping you informed about the changes that matter.

Skip to content