The Gulf War Registry health exam for veterans includes an exposure and medical history, laboratory tests, and a physical exam. A VA health professional will discuss the results face-to-face with you and in a follow-up letter. (4)
What you need to know about this Health Exam
- It is free to eligible Veterans and there is no co-payment
- It is NOT a disability Compensation Exam and is NOT required for other VA Benefits
- Enrollment in VA Health Care System is NOT necessary
- It is based on the veterans recollection of service NOT their military record
- Veterans can receive additional registry exams if new problems develop
About the Registry
The Airborne Hazards and Open Burn Pit Registry is a database of information about Veterans and Service members. Participation in the registry is voluntary. The registry will help to monitor health conditions affecting eligible Veterans and Service members. The data will be used to improve programs to help Veterans and Servicemembers with deployment exposure concerns and offering medicines.
You only have to fill out the questionnaire once. The VA will maintain the security of all information provided in the registry. (4)
Eligibility for Gulf War Registry Health Exam
Veterans who served in the Gulf during Operation Desert Shield, Operation Desert Storm, Operation Iraqi Freedom, or Operation New Dawn are eligible for the Gulf War Registry exam.
Again, you do not need to be enrolled in VA health care to take part. The VA will determine eligibility for the Airborne Hazards and Open Burn Pit Registry based on deployment information from the Department of Defense (DOD). To be eligible, you must be a Veteran or Service member who deployed to contingency operations in the Southwest Asia Theater of operations at any time on or after August 2, 1990, or Afghanistan or Djibouti on or after September11, 2001. These regions include the following countries, bodies of water, and the airspace above these locations:
- Saudi Arabia
- The Gulf of Aden
- The Gulf of Oman
- United Arab Emirates
- Waters of the Persian Gulf, Arabian Sea, and Red Sea (4)
What Should I Expect
The questionnaire takes about 40 minutes to complete. The questions have been designed to give VA a broad picture of your health and current and past exposures. You will be asked a series of questions in the following categories:
- Deployment timeframes and bases to which you were stationed
- Conditions and health issues that cause difficulty with daily activities
- Current and past health symptoms
- Residential history (where you lived)
- Occupational history (what type of work you do)
- Dust, gas, vapors or fumes exposures
- Home environment and hobbies
- Health care use
- Contact preferences (5)
Why Does the Questionnaire Ask Questions About My Current Job and Hobbies?
It is important for medical providers to have a complete picture of your health. The questionnaire asks a broad range of questions because an individual’s health is greatly influenced by their lifestyle. Health conditions can worsen over time from additional or prolonged exposures received during work or recreation. Note: Your current or past jobs, hobbies, civilian exposures, and lifestyle will not affect eligibility for benefits.
Report Exposures-Exposure to airborne hazards such as burn pit smoke may cause health effects. In June 2014, VA opened the “Airborne Hazards and Open Burn Pit Registry” for Veterans and Service members. Veterans who are eligible for the Gulf War Registry may also join the Airborne Hazards and Open Burn Pit Registry, which includes additional data related to airborne hazards. (6)
Benefits of Registering
- Better health awareness: Participating in the registry will create a snapshot of your health from which to measure changes over time.
- Health discussion: You can discuss your questionnaire with a knowledgeable provider during a free, optional, registry evaluation.
- Better long-term health care: Help VA better understand the effects of environmental exposures on health, leading to improved health care for you and for all Veterans.
- Follow-up communications: As VA learns more, they will share this information with participants.
- Most importantly find out if you qualify for compensation
Those affected by Gulf War syndrome have struggled for many years to have their health problems recognized as something other than psychological or “In your head”. This has led to a large amount of bitter wrangling over funding for the care of sick veterans. Official opinion, however, has slowly begun to come around to the fact that veterans are suffering from physical illness as evidence from medical studies has grown.
You are your most dedicated and effective advocate. Arm yourself with the information and/or help needed to successfully prove and win your claim.
(4) U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs; Public Health; About the Gulf War Registry health exam, Available at http://www.publichealth.va.gov/exposures/gulfwar/benefits/registry-exam.asp
(5) U.S Department of Veterans Affairs; Airborne Hazards and Open Burn Pit Registry
(6) U.S Department of Veterans Affairs; Airborne Hazards and Open Burn Pit Registry Fact Sheet