Veterans who are currently dealing with disabilities related to their time in service are entitled to disability compensation from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Often, these disabilities are the result of military work and related to a Veterans MOS. However, not all VA disabilities are directly related to working in the military.
Some illnesses may be the result of living conditions. For example, Veterans stationed at Camp Lejeune from the mid-1950s to the mid-1980s may have been exposed to contaminated drinking water on the base. Since they were stationed at Camp Lejeune, the VA is responsible for providing VA compensation for disabilities that were a result of the contaminated drinking water.
A recent House subcommittee hearing revealed that hundreds of military installations have been found to be contaminated with PFAS, mostly due to the use of a fire-fighting aqueous film-forming foam (AFFF) on its bases.
Evidence indicates that PFAS had been detected at 14 military installations that were above 1 million points per trillion. The Environmental Protection Agency recommends no more than 70 points per million. In 2001, a DOD memo concluded that the main ingredient in AFFF was “persistent, bioaccumulating and toxic.”
PFA stands for perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances. PFAS have been linked to negative health outcomes including low infant birth weights, effects on the immune system, cancers, and thyroid hormone disruption. PFAS can accumulate in the body over time, from any number of different environments. However, if you were stationed on a base or exposed to AFFF over a long period of time, you may be entitled to service connection for any health effects sustained from prolonged exposure.
As with any claim for service connection, you will need three things:
If you are concerned about the accumulation of PFAS, there are studies that will indicate what the level of PFAS is, but will not necessarily tell you whether the levels are safe or unsafe. Currently, the VA does not recommend blood tests for PFAS because nearly all people have some level of PFAS in their system. However, your local Environmental Health Coordinator may be able to provide information on health concerns you might have due to the exposure.
The VA currently evaluates disabilities related to possible PFAS exposure on a case-by-case basis. There are no presumptive illnesses related to PFAS exposure. In order to establish service connection, you will first need to show that you were exposed. You will then need to demonstrate that there is a connection between PFAS and your disability. A nexus letter from a doctor will be very helpful in this regard.
At Berry Law, we are dedicated to helping fellow Veterans get the disability compensation they deserve. If you were denied service connection for PFAS, Berry Law can help you appeal.
Our team features attorneys from all 4 branches of the military, and we are one of the nation’s largest Veterans law firms. We have helped over 10,000 Veterans successfully appeal unfavorable VA rating decisions. Contact Berry Law today for a free case evaluation.
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