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Environmental Hazards

Definition In the context of VA benefits, Environmental Hazards refer to harmful substances, pollutants, or conditions that a service member may have been exposed to during military service. These hazards can have long-term health effects on veterans, leading to various diseases and disorders. VA benefits are granted to affected veterans to assist with medical care […]


In the context of VA benefits, Environmental Hazards refer to harmful substances, pollutants, or conditions that a service member may have been exposed to during military service. These hazards can have long-term health effects on veterans, leading to various diseases and disorders. VA benefits are granted to affected veterans to assist with medical care and compensation for disabilities linked to the exposure to these environmental hazards.

Key Takeaways

  1. Environmental Hazards refer to exposure to harmful substances or conditions during military service, such as asbestos, chemical warfare agents, and radiation, that can lead to illnesses or disabilities in veterans.
  2. Veterans exposed to environmental hazards may be eligible for healthcare services and compensation benefits through the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), including disability pensions, medical treatment, and long-term care, if they are facing health issues as a result of their exposure.
  3. When submitting a claim for VA benefits due to environmental hazards, veterans must provide evidence that shows a direct link between their exposure during military service and their current disability or illness in order to be eligible for compensation and benefits.


The term “Environmental Hazards” is crucial in the context of VA benefits, as it refers to specific conditions or exposures that veterans might encounter during their military service, which could potentially result in lasting health consequences.

Understanding environmental hazards helps the Department of Veterans Affairs to assess and provide necessary compensation, healthcare, and support for affected service members.

Veterans exposed to these hazards may suffer from a range of illnesses, disabilities, or conditions, and by recognizing the significance of these hazards, the VA can better acknowledge the sacrifices made by veterans while ensuring their well-being and providing appropriate assistance in their post-service life.


The purpose of the Environmental Hazards category under VA benefits is to identify and provide assistance to veterans who have been exposed to hazardous materials or experienced adverse environmental conditions during their military service. Environmental Hazards may include, but are not limited to, exposure to contaminants such as asbestos, lead, radiation, or toxic chemicals, as well as situations where veterans have experienced extreme temperatures or participated in activities that have long-term adverse effects on their health.

By recognizing the existence of environmental hazards and their potential impact on veterans’ well-being, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) aims to provide necessary resources and care to address and mitigate the consequences of such exposures on these individuals. In order to achieve this purpose, the VA allows veterans who have been exposed to environmental hazards during their service to apply for benefits to help cover the costs of medical treatment and disability compensation.

This includes developing and providing access to comprehensive health care services tailored to the specific needs of veterans affected by these environmental hazards, including specialized treatment programs and extensive support networks. Additionally, the VA conducts ongoing research and monitoring of environmental exposures, striving to improve the understanding and awareness of the long-term effects of these hazards on veterans’ health.

In doing so, the VA aims to better serve and protect the veterans who have selflessly served their country, ensuring they receive the support and resources they need to lead healthy and fulfilling lives after their military service.

Examples of Environmental Hazards

The term “Environmental Hazards” in the context of VA benefits refers to specific exposures or conditions that veterans may have encountered during their military service, which may result in negative health effects or lead to disability benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs. Here are three real-world examples:

Agent Orange Exposure:One of the most well-known environmental hazards faced by veterans is the exposure to Agent Orange, a toxic herbicide used during the Vietnam War. Veterans who served in Vietnam or specific areas in and around the Korean Demilitarized Zone between 1962 and 1975 may have been exposed to this hazardous chemical, which may cause various health issues such as cancers, neurological disorders, and type 2 diabetes, among other conditions.

Gulf War Illness:Gulf War Illness (GWI) is a term used to describe a set of unexplained chronic symptoms experienced by veterans who served in the 1990-1991 Gulf War. These symptoms may include fatigue, joint pain, memory problems, and sleep disturbances, among others. The cause of GWI remains unclear, but potential environmental hazards such as exposure to depleted uranium, chemical warfare agents, or smoke from oil well fires might contribute to the development of this illness.

Contaminated Water at Camp Lejeune:Between 1953 and 1987, the drinking water at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune in North Carolina was contaminated with hazardous chemicals such as trichloroethylene (TCE), tetrachloroethylene (PCE), and benzene, among others. Veterans and their families who were stationed at Camp Lejeune during this time period may have been exposed to these toxic substances, leading to an increased risk of developing various illnesses, including kidney cancer, liver cancer, and Parkinson’s disease, among others. Those who have been affected may qualify for VA benefits related to their exposure.

FAQ – VA Benefits for Environmental Hazards

What are environmental hazards in the context of VA benefits?

Environmental hazards refer to harmful substances or conditions, such as chemicals or radiation, that veterans may have been exposed to during their military service. These exposures may lead to adverse health effects, and qualifying veterans can receive VA benefits, including healthcare and disability compensation, for conditions related to their exposure.

How does the VA determine if a veteran has been exposed to environmental hazards?

The VA considers factors like the veteran’s military occupational specialty, service history, and locations where they were stationed to evaluate potential exposure to environmental hazards. In some cases, veterans are required to provide additional information or records as evidence of their exposure.

What types of environmental hazards qualify for VA benefits?

The VA addresses several recognized environmental hazards, including Agent Orange, Gulf War exposures, radiation exposure, contaminated water at Camp Lejeune, burn pits, and Project 112/SHAD. Veterans with health problems associated with any of these hazards may be eligible for benefits.

What benefits are available for veterans affected by environmental hazards?

Veterans affected by environmental hazards may be eligible for healthcare services, disability compensation, dependency, and indemnity compensation, and vocational rehabilitation and employment services. Additionally, survivors of veterans who died due to exposure-related conditions might qualify for certain benefits, including death pensions and burial expenses.

How can a veteran apply for benefits related to exposure to environmental hazards?

To apply for benefits related to environmental hazards, a veteran should submit a claim to the VA. They can do this using the “Apply for Benefits” section of the VA’s website, through their regional VA office, or with the assistance of a representative from a Veteran Service Organization. The veteran must provide the required documentation and evidence to support their claim, which may vary depending on the specific hazard involved and the type of health issue associated with it.

Related VA Benefit Terms

  • Asbestos exposure
  • Radiation poisoning
  • Agent Orange exposure
  • Contaminated water supply
  • Airborne hazardous particles

Sources for More Information

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