Veteran Benefits Guide: Cancers Covered by the VA

When cancer becomes part of your journey, it can be overwhelming to navigate the complex process of seeking benefits through the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) system. Whether you're a veteran seeking answers or a family member advocating for your hero, our veterans benefits guide is here to help you understand the eligibility criteria, application processes, and available resources.

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VA Presumptive Conditions Covered by the VA

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is a vital resource for those who have served our country, providing support and benefits for a range of health conditions, including cancer. If you have ever wondered how the VA determines which cancers are eligible for financial compensation, they use a combination of factors, including the type of condition and service connection. Use this veterans benefits guide to help you determine if your cancer is eligible for services.

These presumptive cancers include:

  • Bladder cancer
  • Chronic B-cell leukemia
  • Chronic lymphocytic leukemia
  • Hodgkin’s disease
  • Multiple myeloma
  • Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma
  • Prostate cancer
  • Respiratory cancers (including lung cancer)
  • Soft tissue sarcomas

The VA presumes that certain cancers are caused by military service if you were exposed to specific hazards during your military service. For example, veterans who were exposed to Agent Orange during the Vietnam War are eligible for compensation for certain cancers, such as non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and soft tissue sarcoma. Similarly, veterans who were exposed to radiation during nuclear testing or cleanup operations may be eligible for compensation for certain types of cancer.

Establishing a service connection is critical to the VA’s compensation process. The VA determines service connection by reviewing your medical and service records to identify a link between your cancer diagnosis and military service. However, not all veterans with cancer are eligible for VA compensation. You may not be eligible for benefits if you do not meet the specific criteria or are not exposed to recognized hazards. But that does not mean you are out of options. Using our veterans benefits guide, you can explore legal action outside the VA, seeking compensation from responsible parties such as manufacturers of toxic substances or equipment.

Does the VA Cover Mesothelioma?

Despite its past use in enhancing military infrastructure and equipment, asbestos poses a significant health risk to veterans due to its association with diseases such as mesothelioma and lung cancer. Fortunately, the VA offers disability benefits that cover mesothelioma treatment. These benefits include disability compensation, health care services, Aid and Attendance Benefits, funeral and burial reimbursement, and other benefits. Accessing VA disability benefits for asbestos-related illnesses requires meeting specific eligibility criteria. Veterans must have a current diagnosis and provide evidence of asbestos exposure during their military service. Meeting these criteria allows you to initiate the claims process and access the support and resources available through the VA.

To seek compensation and medical treatment from the VA, follow these steps:

  • File a claim online or by mail using VA Form 21-526EZ
  • Upload supporting documents
  • Enroll in VA health care benefits online or by visiting a local VA location
  • Schedule an appointment at a VA medical center or clinic

Veterans who were diagnosed with mesothelioma may be eligible for VA compensation. To find out if you qualify, speak with a patient advocate today.

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Camp Lejeune Orange Cancers Covered by VA

If you served at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune or Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) New River in North Carolina, you may have been exposed to contaminated water. The water supply at Camp Lejeune was found to be tainted with harmful chemicals, exposing service members, families, and civilians to harmful substances and putting them at risk of developing life-threatening health conditions, including:

  • Leukemia
  • Aplastic anemia
  • Bladder cancer
  • Kidney cancer
  • Liver cancer
  • Multiple myeloma
  • Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma
  • Parkinson’s disease

Mainly affecting atomic veterans, these cancers are presumed to be connected to exposure to toxic chemicals such as perchlorates, trichloroethylene, and tetrachloroethylene, which contaminated the base’s water supply between August 1, 1953, and December 31, 1987, and later developed one of the listed conditions. If you do not have any of the listed conditions, you may still be eligible for health coverage through the VA. If you suspect you were exposed to contaminated water at Camp Lejeune, contact the VA to learn more or seek medical attention if you are experiencing health problems that may be related to exposure.

Veterans Benefits Guide to Burn Pit Exposure Cancers Covered by VA

If you served in Iraq or Afghanistan, you likely noticed that burn pits were a standard method of waste disposal in military bases. These open-air pits emitted toxic fumes and particulate matter into the air and have been linked to a range of health problems, including those types of cancer:

  • Brain cancers
  • Neck cancers
  • Head cancers
  • Respiratory cancers
  • Gastrointestinal cancers
  • Reproductive cancers
  • Lymphomas
  • Melaomas
  • Pancreatic cancer
  • Kidney cancer
  • Thyroid cancers
  • Tongue cancers

The risk level for health effects from burn pit exposure depends on factors such as the type of waste burned, proximity and duration of exposure, weather conditions, and other hazards. While some health issues may be temporary and resolved after exposure ends, others may be longer-term. The VA offers disability compensation for veterans who have developed health conditions as a result of exposure to burn pits. Seeking assistance from a legal representative specializing in VA claims can help you with the claims process and increase your chances of a successful outcome.

Agent Orange Cancers Covered by VA

Agent Orange used during the Vietnam War, contained a highly toxic herbicide chemical contaminant called dioxin, specifically 2,3,7,8-Tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin (TCDD), which has been linked to various cancers, including:

  • Lung cancer
  • Trachea cancer
  • Larynx cancer
  • Bronchus cancer
  • Bladder cancer
  • Prostate cancer
  • Soft tissue sarcomas
  • Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma
  • Hodgkin’s Disease
  • Multiple myeloma

The military’s use of Agent Orange took place from 1962 to 1971, intending to destroy dense vegetation, but instead caused devastating consequences for both the Vietnamese population and American service members. In the aftermath of the Vietnam War, the U.S. government acknowledged the harmful effects of Agent Orange exposure on veterans’ health and established programs to provide compensation and medical care for those affected.

Understanding Your Eligibility: Veterans Benefits Guide to Compensation

To be eligible, you must meet basic servicer and discharge requirements and have been exposed to toxins or other hazards during your military service at home or abroad. If you meet these criteria, you can enroll in VA health care without needing to file for disability benefits first.

The PACT Act of 2022 has expanded and extended eligibility for VA health care, adding new presumptive conditions for burn pits, Agent Orange, and other toxic exposures. This means that more Veterans than ever before are eligible for benefits, including those who served in the Vietnam War, Gulf War, Iraq, Afghanistan, and other combat zones after 9/11.

If you are a veteran who has developed cancer as a result of military service, you may be eligible for legal compensation. This form of compensation refers to monetary damages awarded through legal action, such as lawsuits or class action settlements, for harm or injury caused by the military or government contractors.  Remember that this legal action would not be against the military but against third-party entities.

Navigating the complex legal system can be overwhelming. That is where we come in! Our team is here to help veterans like you understand their options and access the support they need. Contact us for personalized support accessing the legal options and the veteran’s benefits guide you need to move forward.