The atomic veterans played a significant role in the development and testing of nuclear weapons. However, many of these brave men and women found themselves exposed to dangerous levels of radiation during their service. Here, you can learn about the different compensation options available to atomic veterans, including the Atomic Veterans Benefit Program, and who qualifies as an atomic veteran.
Who Are The Atomic Veterans?
Atomic veterans are U.S. military personnel who as part of their military service:
- Participated in atmospheric nuclear weapons tests between 1945 and 1962, such as at the Nevada test site, Trinity test site, and Pacific test sites, including Bikini Atoll and Enewetak Atoll in the Marshall Islands.
- Were part of the U.S. military occupation forces in or around Hiroshima and Nagasaki prior to 1946.
- Were detained as a prisoner of war (POW) in or near Hiroshima or Nagasaki (certain cases).
The contributions of atomic veterans to global nuclear knowledge came at a great price, as many ended up experiencing health-related issues due to exposure to radiation.
Long-Term Effects of Radiation Exposure on Atomic Veterans
The detrimental health impacts of radiation exposure on atomic veterans cannot be overstated. In addition to causing a variety of short-term health problems, such as vomiting, diarrhea, hair loss, and skin lesions, prolonged or high levels of radiation exposure resulted in a variety of long-term health problems, including an increased risk of developing various diseases, notably cancers such as leukemia, lymphoma, thyroid, breast, lung, and skin cancers. Additionally, atomic veterans often developed non-cancerous conditions, including cataracts, thyroid diseases, and cardiovascular ailments.
These long-term health problems have not only affected their quality of life but also have social and economic implications for their families. In many instances, the health issues are debilitating, requiring long-term medical care, and in the worst cases, have resulted in premature death. The long-term effects of radiation exposure on atomic veterans underline the importance of the compensation schemes that are available to them.
Compensation for Atomic Veterans
Recognizing the sacrifices made by atomic veterans, the U.S. government established several compensation programs to provide support to atomic veterans and their families. One such initiative is the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act (RECA), which is a law providing monetary compensation to those affected by government-created radiation who were later diagnosed with a covered cancer. RECA was enacted in 1990 and later amended in 2000 and again in 2004.
Under RECA, atomic veterans or their surviving family members are eligible to receive a one-time lump sum compensation. The amount varies depending on specific radiation exposure categories (the means by which a person came in contact with radioactive material). Veterans (or eligible family members) may receive a one-time lump sum payment of $75,000 if suffering from specific cancers or $50,000 for certain noncancerous diseases due to radiation exposure.
In addition to RECA, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) offers disability compensation to atomic veterans who have developed certain radiation-related diseases. These veterans may qualify for regular disability payments. The VA also provides healthcare services to these veterans through the Ionizing Radiation Registry health exam program. This program offers an extensive health examination to detect health problems and initiate early treatment.
Furthermore, atomic veterans who participated in the occupation of Hiroshima and Nagasaki or were POWs in Japan, and are suffering from certain cancers, may be eligible for compensation under the VA’s presumptive disease policy.
Atomic Veterans Cancer Benefit Program
The Atomic Veterans Cancer Benefit Program helps ensure that veterans who have suffered due to exposure to radiation during their service, and their families, receive the vital support, compensation, and medical benefits they are entitled to and deserve. The program provides payment to the veterans who were diagnosed with specific radiation-related diseases such as leukemia, multiple myeloma, and various types of cancer or their surviving spouses, children, or eligible family members. The eligibility criteria can be accessed online through the National Cancer Benefits Center website and the atomic veterans benefits program website.
While no amount of compensation can fully address the harm suffered by atomic veterans, the compensation programs put in place aim to provide some measure of support and acknowledgment for their service and sacrifice.
How The National Cancer Benefits Center Can Help Atomic Veterans
The National Cancer Benefits Center exists to help veterans and their families who are affected by illnesses resulting from exposure to radiation or other toxic substances due to nuclear testing at a nuclear site, such as Bikini Atoll or Enewetak Atoll in the Marshall Islands, and the Nevada test site. They promote and work with many different benefit programs to help eligible claimants receive their compensation.
If you or a family member were exposed to radiation as a result of government nuclear testing and were subsequently diagnosed with cancer or related illness, call the National Cancer Benefits Center today. Our compassionate and knowledgeable providers have been helping eligible claimants collect their compensation for more than 25 years.
We provide personalized and unbiased advice and will help you navigate the claims process to ensure you get the financial compensation you’re entitled to. To learn more, call the National Cancer Benefits Center today at (800) 414-4328 or use the following link to request for more information.