The Army is required to provide medical care to veterans who took part in classified Army testing of chemical and biological substances decades ago, officials say.
A lawsuit brought by a veterans’ advocacy group, Vietnam Veterans of America, resulted in the requirement that the Army give medical care to eligible veterans who took part in testing that supported U.S. chemical and biological programs, Army Medical Command officials said in a release this week.
The announcement applies to testing that took place from 1942 to 1975, officials said.
Veterans who have a disease or injury they believe is related to the testing may seek treatment from the Army, according to the Army’s Office of the Surgeon General.
The action is related to a 2009 lawsuit filed by VVA, an Army spokesperson confirmed to Army Times.
Several veterans claimed they were exposed to dangerous chemicals during government-sponsored Cold War experiments without their knowledge, and they filed suit in 2009 against the Army, Veterans Affairs, the CIA and the Department of Defense.
The class-action lawsuit was filed by Vietnam Veterans of America, Swords to Plowshares and individual veterans seeking medical care for troops who participated in the programs at Edgewood Arsenal and Fort Detrick in Maryland.
The lawsuit sought for the veterans to be notified about what substances they had received and be provided medical coverage.
In 2015, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals said the Army, and not Veterans Affairs, should provide veterans with medical care related to the testing.
The judges in 2015 rejected a district court’s earlier argument that the Army didn’t have to provide medical care for the veterans because some of them receive VA care, The judges instead ruled the Army has a duty to provide them care.
The appeals court ruled the Army is obligated to provide the vets updated information on issues related to their health.
Veterans who are eligible for the care must have:
- Served as a volunteer for medical research in a U.S. Army chemical or biological substance testing program from 1942 to 1975. This includes receiving medicines or vaccines under the Army’s investigational drug review.
- A Defense Department Form 214 or War Department discharge/separation form or the functional equivalent.
- A diagnosed medical condition they think is a direct result of taking part in an Army chem/bio substance testing program.
Eligible veterans can expect to receive the medical care and related medications at their nearest military medical treatment facility that has the capability and capacity for them, officials said in the release.
Treatment will be in addition to the comprehensive medical care that plaintiffs are entitled to receive through Veterans Affairs because of their status as veterans, the release said.
For assistance, eligible veterans may call (800) 984-8523 or go to the Army website for participants of medical research programs.
The website has details about applying for medical care through this program.