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Environmental Hazards Program


The Environmental Hazards Program is a part of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) that addresses the health concerns of veterans exposed to harmful environmental elements during their military service. This program provides support, including medical care, disability compensation, and research into associated illnesses. It focuses on exposures such as Agent Orange, Gulf War-related hazards, ionizing radiation, and contaminated water at Camp Lejeune.

Key Takeaways

  1. The Environmental Hazards Program aims to ensure that veterans who were exposed to harmful environmental hazards during their military service receive proper health care and benefits. These hazards can include toxic chemicals, radiation, and air or water pollution.
  2. Eligible veterans can access health care services and benefits pertaining to their exposure, such as disability compensation, medical treatments, and assistance in filing a claim for these benefits through the Veterans Affairs’ Environmental Hazards Program.
  3. Some major environmental hazards recognized by the VA include Agent Orange in Vietnam, contaminated water at Camp Lejeune, Gulf War illness, and radiation exposure from nuclear weapons testing, among others. Veterans affected by these exposures are encouraged to enroll in the Environmental Hazards Program to receive support and assistance.


The Environmental Hazards Program is a crucial aspect of VA benefits as it aims to facilitate the provision of appropriate healthcare and compensation to eligible veterans exposed to environmental hazards during their military service.

This program acknowledges the long-term negative effects that harmful substances and contaminants, such as Agent Orange, Project SHAD, and toxic waste exposure, can have on a veteran’s health.

By raising awareness, offering healthcare solutions, and advocating for disability benefits, the Environmental Hazards Program helps ensure that veterans and their families receive the necessary support and recognition for the sacrifices they made in service to their country.


The purpose of the Environmental Hazards Program is to ensure that veterans receive comprehensive healthcare and compensation for health issues resulting from environmental exposures sustained during military service. The program aims to inform and educate veterans, healthcare providers, and the general public on potential health risks associated with these exposures.

By identifying and addressing the impact of various environmental hazards, such as toxic chemicals, environmental pollution, or hazardous substances, the program strives to foster a better understanding of the long-term health effects on veterans and their families, as well as provide necessary resources and support to address these healthcare needs. In order to achieve its mission, the Environmental Hazards Program offers a range of services and benefits to eligible veterans.

These benefits include healthcare services that specifically address exposure-related health issues, such as specialized medical monitoring and treatment plans catered to the individual’s needs, as well as access to cutting-edge research in the field of environmental exposures. In addition to healthcare support, the program works in close collaboration with the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to provide compensation benefits to veterans who have developed service-connected disabilities resulting from exposure to hazardous environmental substances.

By educating and assisting veterans in obtaining crucial medical and financial support, the Environmental Hazards Program plays a vital role in helping those who have bravely served their country.

Examples of Environmental Hazards Program

The Environmental Hazards Program is a part of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) that deals with the adverse effects of environmental exposures on veterans’ health. The following are three real-world examples of environmental hazards that this program addresses:

Agent Orange Exposure: Agent Orange is a toxic herbicide used by the U.S. military during the Vietnam War to defoliate trees and remove concealment for the enemy. Veterans exposed to Agent Orange may have increased risk for certain cancers, diabetes, and other long-term health problems. The VA Benefits Environmental Hazards Program helps veterans affected by Agent Orange access healthcare and disability compensation benefits by providing information on eligibility criteria, related diseases, medical examinations, and documentation requirements.

Gulf War Syndrome: During the 1990-1991 Gulf War, many veterans were exposed to a mix of chemicals, including pesticides, depleted uranium, oil well fires, and other environmental hazards. This combination of exposures led to a collection of unexplained illnesses, known as “Gulf War Syndrome” or “Gulf War Illness.” The Environmental Hazards Program supports veterans suffering from these chronic multi-symptom illnesses by providing healthcare benefits, disability compensation, and facilitating research on effective treatments and care.

Burn Pit Exposure: Many veterans who served in Iraq, Afghanistan, and other locations since 1990 were exposed to open-air burn pits used to dispose of waste materials. Inhalation of toxic smoke and fumes from these burn pits can lead to respiratory illnesses and other long-term health effects. The VA’s Environmental Hazards Program assists veterans with health issues related to burn pit exposure by providing healthcare benefits, registering them for the VA Burn Pit Registry, and supporting medical research to improve the understanding of the health risks associated with burn pit exposure.

Environmental Hazards Program FAQ

What is the Environmental Hazards Program?

The Environmental Hazards Program is a service provided by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to help veterans exposed to environmental hazards during military service. This program provides medical exams, testing, treatment, and education on potential health effects of exposure to environmental hazards.

Who is eligible for the Environmental Hazards Program?

Eligible applicants include veterans who served in the military and were exposed to environmental hazards, such as Agent Orange, contaminated drinking water, or other toxic substances during their service.

How do I apply for the Environmental Hazards Program?

To apply for this program, you can submit a claim through the VA website, visit your local VA office, or work with a Veterans Service Organization (VSO) representative. If you need assistance in gathering evidence of your exposure or navigating the application process, consider working with a VSO.

What kind of benefits can I expect from the Environmental Hazards Program?

The benefits available through the Environmental Hazards Program include medical care related to your exposure (such as exams, tests, and treatment), disability compensation, and education regarding potential health issues due to your exposure. Additionally, VA may provide support and counseling services if needed.

Are family members eligible for benefits from the Environmental Hazards Program?

Some family members of veterans exposed to environmental hazards may qualify for benefits, such as healthcare, disability compensation, and survivor benefits. Eligibility for these benefits depends on the veteran’s service-related exposure and the specific circumstances of the family member in question.

How long does it take to receive benefits from the Environmental Hazards Program?

The processing time for an Environmental Hazards Program claim varies depending on the complexity of the case and the availability of evidence. Typically, the VA tries to process claims within several months. If additional evidence is needed to support your claim, the processing time may be longer.

Related VA Benefit Terms

  • Veterans Toxic Exposure
  • Agent Orange Exposure
  • Gulf War Registry
  • Burn Pit Registry
  • Ionizing Radiation Registry

Sources for More Information