The Department of Veterans Affairs has created a list of three presumptive conditions related to particulate matter exposure. Specifically, it will now cover asthma, rhinitis and sinusitis, but only if you served in a covered area and had one of those conditions within 10 years of leaving the military.
Locations and dates of service are specific: Afghanistan, Djibouti, Syria and Uzbekistan during the Persian Gulf War, from Sept. 19, 2001 to the present; or the Southwest Asia theater of operations, from Aug. 2, 1990 to the present. It covers Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, the neutral zone between Iraq and Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Oman, the Gulf of Aden, the Gulf of Oman, the Persian Gulf, the Arabian Sea, Red Sea and the airspace above these locations.
With particulate matter exposure, they’re talking about the open burn pits, in which there might have been petroleum, munitions, plastics, metal, chemicals, medical and human waste and more. In some cases, however, the exposure was sand, sand and more sand, or smoke from oil-well fires, aircraft exhaust, dust, fuel ... the list goes on. Your exposure, of course, depends on the amount of time you spent there, wind direction and the types of waste.
Check the Burn Pits page (www.publichealth.va.gov/exposures/burnpits) and the Exposures page: (www.publichealth.va.gov/exposures).
It’s said that if you already have a claim in for one of those illnesses, you don’t have to do a thing. You’ll hear back about a decision. I vote for not waiting. Don’t take a chance that somebody will misplace your claim, especially if you have a claim for other conditions as well. Make a call. Or use VA Form 21-526EZ for first claims.
If you ever signed up on the Airborne Hazards and Open Burn Pit Registry (AHOBPR), check to see that you’re still on the list. Print out a copy and use that to submit with your claim.
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