During the Vietnam War and Gulf War, the United States military used large amounts of jet propulsion fuel known as JP-4 and JP-8 that may have compromised the health of thousands of active service members. Not only did service members suffer poor health effects when fueling up planes, they also dealt with harmful chemical exposure when burning human feces and trash. Some soldiers had chronic chemical exposure that left them with fuel on their skin that caused itching, burning, and overall discomfort.
Jet fuel explosions also affected service members in Vietnam and the Gulf War. In 1965, for example, more than 250,000 gallons of JP-4 jet fuel exploded causing many fatalities and serious injuries. Those who survived had to receive help at a medical center due to their lungs filling up with burning fuel. In the years since the wars, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has made a positive connection between exposure to toxic jet fuel and the following health problems:
- Hearing loss
- Neurological and nervous system disorders
- Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma
- Peripheral neuropathy
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Traumatic brain injury (TBI)
Regardless of how long ago you were on active duty or when you discovered your health issue, you may be eligible for VA benefits due to toxic exposure to jet fuel.
How Hill & Ponton Can Help with Your VA Disability Claim
At Hill & Ponton Disability Attorneys, we work with current and former military service members to help them obtain disability compensation related to toxic jet fuel exposure. Eligibility criteria can be challenging to understand and paperwork complex to complete when applying for VA benefits and the Disease Registry. We strongly recommend working with a Hill & Ponton attorney experienced in helping combat veterans fight for their disability claims.
Having a Hill & Ponton disability attorney on your side makes it much more likely you will receive the benefits you apply for without delay. If the VA does deny your claim for any reason, your attorney will assist you with filing an appeal. You can learn more about our veterans disability claim services by contacting our national office.
Neurological and Nervous System Disorders Associated with Toxic Jet Fuel Exposure
JP-8 jet fuel is part of a large family of hydrocarbon chemicals responsible for causing auditory processing disorders among service members that sometimes didn’t show up until years later. Even when regularly exposed to low levels of JP-8 jet fuel, some soldiers in the U.S. Army, Air Force, or other branches of military service developed brain issues later identified as auditory processing disorder.
Contrary to a common misconception that auditory processing disorder causes hearing loss, Vietnam and Gulf War veterans with this condition typically have normal hearing. The problem comes when their brains cannot decipher the message they hear correctly. Some medical researchers have called auditory processing disorder dyslexia of the brain.
Because the problem is invisible to others, it can be among the most frustrating health concerns of former soldiers and can also have a negative impact on mental health. Former service members often go years without a proper diagnosis because they pass hearing tests and may have difficulty articulating the problem well enough for doctors to diagnose correctly.
Fortunately, the VA now recognizes auditory processing disorder and other health problems caused by exposure to the carcinogens produced by jet fuel. If you have this condition, you may finally get some relief after years of suffering.
General Symptoms of Jet Fuel Exposure
According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, the specific health problems suffered by military service members and the severity of their symptoms depends on several individual factors. These include:
- Cumulative time of toxic exposure
- Genetic traits
- Method of exposure such as breathing in fumes or jet fuel on the skin
- Typical diet
The VA states that scientific research regarding the long-term health effects on people exposed to jet fuel is inconclusive. Despite this, it recognizes occupational exposures resulting from military service. Serious health problems such as lung cancer typically develop only after prolonged exposure to jet fuel at extremely high levels. You may be eligible for financial compensation and/or free medical care if you can prove a service connection between your current health issue and jet fuel exposure. Common symptoms related to jet fuel exposure include:
- Difficulty breathing
- Difficulty sleeping
- Eye irritation
- Upper respiratory illness
Drinking jet fuel is the most dangerous type of toxic exposure. Consuming jet fuel orally can cause convulsions, coma, or death.
Overview of VA Benefits You May Be Eligible to Receive
The VA requests but does not require Vietnam and Gulf War veterans to obtain a free health registry evaluation. Working closely with the United States military, the VA uses this information to study the long-term effects of exposure and environmental health. You can participate in the health registry evaluation even if you do not receive healthcare at a VA medical center. Eligible veterans can also receive free healthcare through the VA by enrolling in its healthcare system.
In addition to free healthcare services, you may be eligible for disability compensation if your current disability has a service connection and you did not receive a dishonorable discharge from the United States military. Each of these statements must be true for you to receive disability compensation from the VA:
- You served in active duty military, active duty military training, or inactive military duty training.
- You have a disability rating for your current disability associated with a service connection.
Additionally, at least one of these three criteria must apply to your situation:
- You became injured or experienced ill health effects while serving in the United States military and can prove a positive service connection when applying for disability compensation.
- You had an injury or illness prior to starting military service and the condition became worse as a result.
- You currently have a disability related to active duty military service, but a doctor did not diagnose the health issue until after you completed your service.
It is important to note that the VA presumes that certain disabilities have a direct relationship to military service. These include any chronic illness that first appeared within a year of ending your active military service, any illness caused by toxic exposure such as jet fuel, and illness related to Vietnam veterans and Gulf War veterans who served time as a prisoner of war.
Benefits for Survivors and Biological Children with Birth Defects May Be Available
The VA recognizes that some soldiers who served in Vietnam or Korea later had children born with serious birth defects due to the toxic exposure of the parent during military service. The birth defect must have resulted in permanent physical or mental disability for dependents to meet the eligibility requirements for disability compensation.
For example, Spina bifida is the most common permanent disability among children with a biological parent exposed to Agent Orange in Vietnam, Korea, or Iraq. Disability compensation, vocational training, and free healthcare are the most common benefits received by disabled children of Vietnam veterans.
Surviving spouses, dependent children, and/or dependent parents may also be eligible for a home loan, education, financial compensation, and healthcare benefits if their family member died due to health problems related to toxic exposure.
Start Your Claim with Hill & Ponton Today
We encourage you to complete the free disability case evaluation for veterans even if you are uncertain that you qualify for disability compensation. An experienced military disability attorney will assist you with the evaluation if you need help and then guide you on the next steps to appealing your disability claims with the United States Department of Veterans Affairs.
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