Veterans Disability Benefits for Toxic Exposure on Military Bases

Veterans exposed to toxins on military bases may be eligible for disability benefits. Some illnesses linked to toxic exposure are classified as presumptive conditions, while other ailments require Veterans to prove the link between the illness and their time in the service.

Military bases, while serving as vital hubs for training and operations, have unfortunately been sites of toxic exposure for service members. Over the years, various hazardous substances, such as asbestos, Agent Orange, burn pits, and PFAS chemicals have been present on bases worldwide. Exposure to these toxins can lead to severe health problems, including respiratory issues, cancers, neurological disorders, and reproductive problems. Despite efforts to mitigate risks, many Veterans continue to suffer from the consequences of past exposure.

This blog post offers comprehensive guidance to Veterans affected by toxic exposure on military bases. By providing clear and concise information, we aim to empower Veterans and their families to navigate the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) disability claims process with confidence. Our goal is to assist affected individuals in securing the benefits they rightfully deserve while advocating for greater awareness and support for Veterans impacted by toxic exposure.

Hazardous Materials on Military Bases

Hazardous materials are more than just chemicals; they’re materials that can wreak havoc on living organisms, including humans, through various avenues of exposure like inhalation, ingestion, or even simple skin contact. On military bases, where safety and security are paramount, these substances can lurk in unexpected corners, potentially posing serious risks to servicemembers.

Toxic substances can be found in the air, soil, water, and materials used to build the structures that shelter our armed forces. The implications of exposure to toxic substances extend far beyond the immediate effects. Symptoms like respiratory issues, skin irritations, or gastrointestinal problems may develop, but the long-term consequences can be even more profound.

There is the potential for chronic health conditions like cancer, neurological disorders, and reproductive issues. Toxic exposure can silently take a toll on those who have bravely served their country. On military bases, these substances can encompass a wide range of materials.


Asbestos, a naturally occurring mineral known for its heat resistance and durability, was widely used in military construction and shipbuilding from the early to mid-20th century due to its insulating properties.

Used extensively in military construction, asbestos fibers can lead to respiratory issues and mesothelioma when inhaled. Military personnel may be at risk of inhaling asbestos fibers during construction, maintenance, or renovation projects.

Burn Pits

Open-air burning of waste on military bases in what are called burn pits releases toxins and carcinogens into the air, potentially causing respiratory illnesses and other health issues.

Jet Fuel

Jet fuel, typically comprised of hydrocarbons such as kerosene, contains various volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and potentially harmful additives like lead or benzene. Prolonged or high-level exposure to jet fuel vapors or contact with liquid fuel can lead to respiratory issues, skin irritation, neurological symptoms, and other health problems.

Military Munitions

Munitions, including ammunition, explosives, and ordnance, contain various hazardous materials and chemicals that can pose risks to human health and the environment. Military munitions may contain heavy metals, propellants and explosives, chemical agents, and depleted uranium. Contamination of soil and groundwater is a big concern.


Exposure to pesticides on military bases can occur through inhalation of pesticide spray or fumes, dermal contact with treated surfaces or soil, and ingesting contaminated food or water. Additionally, individuals involved in pesticide application or handling may be at increased risk of exposure.

The health effects of pesticide exposure can vary depending on the type of pesticide, level of exposure, and individual susceptibility. Acute effects may include respiratory irritation, skin rashes, nausea, dizziness, and headaches. Long-term exposure to certain pesticides has been linked to chronic health conditions such as cancer, neurological disorders, reproductive problems, and developmental issues.

PFAS Chemicals

PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) chemicals are a significant source of toxic exposure on military bases. PFAS chemicals have been widely used in various industrial and consumer products for decades due to their unique properties, including resistance to heat, water, and oil.

Within military contexts, PFAS-containing materials have been utilized in firefighting foam (Aqueous Film Forming Foam, or AFFF), stain-resistant coatings, and other applications. PFAS are linked to various health problems, including cancer, immune system dysfunction, and developmental issues.

The Department of Defense (DOD) has stated that more than 700 military installations are likely contaminated with PFAS. The DOD has identified 455 sites where PFAS has been detected in drinking water and groundwater.

Toxic Metals

Toxic metals, which include lead, mercury, cadmium, arsenic, and others, are commonly used in various military applications, including ammunition, electronics, vehicle maintenance, and industrial processes. Exposure to toxic metals on military bases can occur through various pathways, including inhalation, ingestion, and skin contact with contaminated soil, air, water, or dust.

Water Contamination

Water contamination at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, has had devastating effects on service members and their families. For decades, toxic chemicals like benzene and trichloroethylene contaminated the base’s water supply, leading to serious health issues, including cancers and birth defects. Veterans who served at Camp Lejeune and developed qualifying conditions may be eligible for VA disability benefits.

Common Sources of Exposure to Toxins on Military Bases

Exposure to toxins on military bases can occur through various pathways, including:

  • Occupational Exposure: Service members may come into direct contact with hazardous materials during their duties, such as handling chemicals or working in contaminated environments.
  • Environmental Contamination: Contamination of soil, water, and air on military installations can result from past activities like industrial operations, waste disposal practices, or accidents.
  • Proximity to Combat Zones: Veterans serving in conflict areas may encounter toxins from battlefield hazards like burn pits, chemical warfare agents, or contaminated soil and water.

Disease and Disability Caused by Military Base Toxins

The health effects of toxic exposure on military bases can manifest in various ways, depending on the type and duration of exposure. Some potential consequences include:

  • Respiratory Issues: Inhalation of airborne pollutants can lead to asthma, chronic bronchitis, or pulmonary fibrosis.
  • Cancer: Many toxic substances are carcinogenic, increasing the risk of developing cancers such as lung cancer, mesothelioma, or leukemia.
  • Neurological Disorders: Exposure to certain chemicals may result in neurological conditions like Parkinson’s disease, cognitive impairment, or neuropathy.
  • Reproductive Problems: Some toxins can affect reproductive health, leading to infertility, miscarriages, or birth defects in offspring.
  • Radiation Poisoning: Conditions related to radiation exposure can be caused by toxins on bases.
  • Long-Term Disabilities: Chronic health conditions stemming from toxic exposure may result in long-term disabilities that impact daily functioning and quality of life.

VA Disability Benefits Claim Process for Toxic Exposure

Veterans affected by toxic exposure on military bases are often left to cope with the physical, emotional, and financial challenges stemming from toxic exposure-related illnesses. VA disability benefits provide financial assistance, medical care, and support to Veterans suffering from service-connected disabilities, including those related to toxic exposure. Navigating the complex system of disability compensation can be daunting, but knowing the relevant entitlements and rights can help in accessing assistance.

To qualify for disability compensation, Veterans must establish a direct service connection between their exposure to toxic substances and the development of their medical conditions. This often involves providing medical evidence, such as diagnosis reports and treatment records, to demonstrate the link between their military service and their health issues. Once approved, Veterans may receive monthly disability payments based on the severity of their conditions.

Presumptive Conditions and Exposure to Hazardous Materials

Toxic exposure itself is not considered a presumptive condition by the VA. However, certain health conditions resulting from specific toxic exposures may be recognized as presumptive conditions, meaning that the VA accepts that they are related to military service without requiring individual evidence of exposure.

The list of presumptive conditions is subject to change. An experienced VA disability benefits attorney from Berry Law can help Veterans stay informed about updates to VA policies and regulations regarding toxic exposure-related conditions. These professionals can help in gathering evidence, completing paperwork, and advocating throughout the claims process.

Toxic Exposure Laws

Laws governing toxic exposure on military bases are crucial for ensuring the safety of personnel and the surrounding environment. One significant piece of legislation is the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), enacted by Congress to address hazardous materials at “Superfund” sites, including military bases.

A Superfund site is an area designated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as contaminated by hazardous waste and identified as a candidate for cleanup under CERCLA. The EPA maintains a National Priorities List (NPL) of contaminated sites, including military bases, that require cleanup under CERCLA.

While some military bases have been identified as Superfund sites due to hazardous waste contamination, the number fluctuates over time as sites are added to or removed from the NPL based on criteria including site assessments, cleanup progress, and other factors.

Additionally, military installations outside of the United States may be subject to environmental regulations and cleanup efforts governed by host countries’ authorities rather than the EPA.

How Can a Lawyer Help with Toxic Exposure Veterans Disability Benefits?

Exposure to toxins on military bases can have devastating effects on Veterans’ health and well-being. An experienced VA disability benefits lawyer can be a valuable ally in the fight to get compensation for illnesses caused by toxic exposure on base. Here’s how these legal professionals can help.

Navigating the Medical Care Process

Veterans affected by exposure to hazardous materials on base may struggle to access adequate medical care for their injuries, illnesses, and related conditions. A skilled lawyer can leverage their network of medical experts and resources to help find appropriate medical treatment and ensure Veterans receive the care they need to manage their health conditions effectively.

Assisting with the Claims Process

Filing a VA disability benefits claim for toxic exposure-related conditions can be a daunting and bureaucratic process. A knowledgeable lawyer can guide Veterans through each step of the claims process, from gathering evidence and completing paperwork to advocating for rights during appeals or hearings. By navigating the complexities of VA regulations and requirements, a lawyer can help maximize the chance of securing benefits.

Advocating Against Powerful Interests

Veterans pursuing disability benefits for toxic exposure may face opposition from powerful interests. An experienced lawyer can level the playing field by advocating fiercely on the Veteran’s behalf and holding accountable those responsible for the toxic exposure. By representing clients against these formidable adversaries, a lawyer can ensure the Veteran’s voice is heard, and their rights are protected.

Seeking Fair Compensation

Toxic exposure can have profound and long-lasting impacts on Veterans’ lives, including physical and emotional suffering, loss of income, and decreased quality of life. A dedicated lawyer will work tirelessly to ensure the Veteran receives fair and just compensation for their injuries, illnesses, and losses. Whether through negotiated settlements or litigation, a lawyer will fight to secure the maximum benefits available under the law.

Contact Berry Law Today

If anyone served in the military and was exposed to toxins on base, they may be entitled to VA disability benefits. At Berry Law, our team is made up of lawyers, investigators, and other legal professionals who are Veterans themselves. We uniquely understand the challenges encountered when seeking compensation for toxic exposure-related conditions. Our experienced VA disability benefits attorneys have a proven track record of helping Veterans navigate the complex claims process and securing the benefits they deserve.

Veterans can contact Berry Law today to schedule a free consultation and learn how we can assist them with VA disability benefits claims. Our dedicated team will work tirelessly to advocate for Veterans’ rights and ensure they receive fair and just compensation for their injuries, illnesses, and losses. Veterans’ service to our country deserves to be recognized, and we’re here to help them every step of the way.

We represent Veterans in all 50 states and our legal team is available 24/7. Call us at 888-883-2483 or fill out our online contact form. Veterans’ fights are our fight.

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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