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The American Cancer Society estimates that doctors will diagnose more than 1.7 million patients with a new form of cancer in 2019 alone. While this disease is often an unavoidable consequence of genetics, service in the United States military can also be a contributing factor to cancer in former servicemembers.

The VA recognizes that active-duty service exposed millions of veterans to hazardous chemicals and other carcinogens. Accordingly, the VA’s disability compensation program offers tax-free benefits to former servicemembers who can connect their time on active duty to their cancer diagnoses.

A VA-accredited attorney can help you with gathering medical records which indicate your cancer diagnosis and making the necessary service connection between your condition and active duty service. If necessary, we can also assist you with pursuing any necessary appeals in the event of a denial of benefits.

How Time in the Military Can Contribute to Cancer

While combat injuries and training accidents might be the most obvious incidents associated with active duty service, seemingly innocuous environmental conditions can also have a long-term effect on a servicemember’s health. The VA recognizes that many of the substances, munitions, and machinery biproducts handled by veterans are carcinogens.

During the Vietnam War, for example, the U.S. used Agent Orange to destroy large swaths of jungle in order to expose enemy positions. It is now widely known that this chemical is a carcinogen responsible for thousands of B-cell leukemia and many other cancer diagnoses. Other substances that may contribute to cancer include:

  • Munitions containing depleted uranium
  • Diesel exhaust
  • Contaminated groundwater
  • Cleaning substances

Exposure to any of these toxins may form the basis of a successful service-related cancer claim. VetLaw’s team of experienced attorneys can help examine your active-duty service to determine whether exposure to any carcinogens occurred.

Connecting a Cancer Diagnosis to Active Duty

A critical part of any VA disability compensation benefits claim involves establishing a service connection between a former servicemember’s disability and their time on active duty. Since cancer is a somewhat common diagnosis for military and non-military members alike, it is understandable that the VA may respond with a denial if a veteran alleges a service connection with little or no proof.

Cancer-related VA benefit claims should include evidence which shows how time on active duty exposed a veteran to dangerous substances. For example, documentation of specific incidents of toxic spills or service records indicating the handling of known carcinogens could establish a valid service-related injury.

In some cases, like those involving Agent Orange or Gulf War Syndrome, the VA may presume that a cancer diagnosis is service-related. A VA-accredited attorney can help you make the essential connection between your time in uniform and your cancer diagnosis.

Successful Cancer Claims Can Bring Essential Benefits

Cancer can bring chaos into the lives of former servicemembers, especially those who may be dealing with other service-connected conditions as well. For many veterans, pursuing a VA disability benefits claim after a cancer diagnosis can be a vital part of your future.

If there is a connection between your time on active duty and your cancer diagnosis, you may qualify for disability benefits. VetLaw’s team of skilled attorneys can help you evaluate your case and to pursue cancer claims even if you have already received a denial. Schedule an appointment today to discuss the details of your case.