Deployed Army National Guard troops who served in the Qarmat Ali region may have been exposed to toxic chemicals. The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) notified the soldiers at risk of the exposure and told them it likely occurred while they guarded a water treatment plant. Because of the exposure, Steve Buyer (R.–IN.) introduced legislation to give the exposed soldiers extended VA health care benefits.
It’s possible the soldiers were exposed to sodium dichromate. Exposure to sodium dichromate can lead to very serious symptoms, including:
- Ear, nose, and throat disorders;
- Skin lesions;
- Breathing problems; and
- Heightened rates of lung cancer.
The VA is also building a registry to track those who were exposed at Qarmat Ali and the health issues they are facing. This does not help all veterans, however. Veterans who were discharged more than 5 years ago do not qualify for such these extended benefits. Those veterans must go through the arduous process of being given a disability rating for their service-related disability.
Buyer’s legislation, HR 6127, will provide for another 5 years of “no-questions-asked” VA health care to all veterans of Qarmat Ali. Their time would begin to toll on the day the VA notified them of their possible exposure to sodium dichromate, not on their date of discharge.
With something like exposure, preventative treatments could be vital. The sooner the soldiers are treated, the better. It is possible the bill could be voted on before the November 2nd break.
If you are a disabled veteran who has been denied disability compensation or have not yet applied for benefits from the VA, contact Veterans Help Group. You may be entitled to certain programs and benefits so contact our veterans disability rights firm today.