The Army announced last month that, as a result of a class action lawsuit filed by the Vietnam Veterans of America, it will begin providing medical care to veterans who have a condition resulting from their participation in chemical and biological testing programs conducted by the Army between 1942 and 1975. Most of these programs took place at Edgewood Arsenal near Aberdeen, MD or at Ft. Detrick, MD.
According to the court ruling, the Army, NOT the VA, is to provide medical care for these veterans. The medical care, including medications, will be provided on a space-available basis at the veteran’s nearest military medical facility with the capability and the capacity to treat these conditions. Care will be provided for a specific period of time as stated in the authorization letter and will be supplemental to any care the veteran is entitled to receive through the VA.
The Army is required to notify by mail those veterans that they can identify who may be eligible for treatment. The first notification letters were sent out November 1, 2017. A veteran does not have to wait to receive a letter in order to apply, however.
To be eligible, veterans must have:
-A DD214 or War Department discharge (or the equivalent)
-volunteered as a medical research subject in a US Army testing program
for biological or chemical substances between 1942 and 1975, including
medications or vaccines received as part of the US Army investigational
-a diagnosed condition that may be connected to their participation in
Veterans who believe they are eligible must apply through the Army, using MEDCOM Form 840. Along with the form, veterans must submit all medical evidence regarding the condition, their VA rating determination letter, and any documents that support their involvement in the testing programs.
Because the records of many participants were destroyed and others classified, it may be difficult for some veterans to prove their participation in these programs. Documents, like orders showing that the veteran was stationed at participating locations at the time, statements from physicians stating that the condition is “more likely than not” connected to research participation, etc., will be considered and could strengthen the veteran’s case. Ultimately, the eligibility decision rests with the Army Medical Command.
The court order requires the Army to set up a Benefits Application Panel that will look at all the evidence available to determine whether or not the diagnosed condition is related to research participation. At this time, a list of eligible conditions/injuries has not been published, so the Panel will review all cases that may qualify.
If you feel that you may be eligible to receive care, please go to www.armymedicine.mil or call 1-800-984-8523.