How to Get a VA Toxic Exposure Screening
The PACT Act expanded VA compensation for service-connected disabilities or medical problems associated with toxic exposures to burn pits, Agent Orange, those suffering from Gulf War Syndrome, and related issues.
Post-9/11 combat veterans are especially vulnerable and should be screened immediately. But all veterans can benefit from being screened for duty-related toxic exposures. Thanks to VA healthcare system changes, those screenings are now available to all who qualify for VA healthcare.
If you are enrolled or are about to enroll in the VA healthcare system, you can get an initial Toxic Exposure Screening and a follow-up to that screening every five years.
Those not currently enrolled but worried about service-connected toxic exposures can apply for VA healthcare and receive the screening.
You can enroll in the VA health care system at the VA official site. Existing enrollees can log into their accounts at My HealtheVet and send a secure message to their medical teams.
VA Toxic Exposure Screening
Do you need the VA Toxic Exposure Screening? Ask for one when you make your next VA Health Care appointment. You can also get screened simply by contacting your nearest VA facility and requesting it–no need to wait for your next scheduled VA appointment.
The VA Toxic Exposure Screening Process: How it Works
- The VA Toxic Exposure screening process is not diagnostic; it’s not intended to determine whether you have a specific medical condition or issue.
- Instead, it’s meant to help determine whether you qualify for a VA “presumptive condition.”
- A presumptive condition is one where the VA assumes any medical issues related to that condition (such as serving where Agent Orange was used, for example) are service-connected without requiring further evidence from the veteran.
The screening process includes answering questions about your military service. This can be administered during other VA appointments so you may not need to make a special trip to get this screening accomplished if you are getting other VA services.
Do you believe you were exposed to toxins during your military duty? Here is a list of topics you may be asked about during the brief (5-10 minutes) Q&A:
- Open Burn Pits
- Airborne Hazards
- Contact with mustard gas
- Contact with asbestos
- Gulf War-related exposures to oil fires, pesticides, etc.
- Agent Orange
- Camp Lejeune contaminated water exposure
- “Other” exposures
The VA official site notes that you are not required to take the screening; you may decline it and it is offered to you again next year.
If you plan to file a PACT Act claim with the VA, or if you plan to get a toxic exposure screening, you should try to remember any possible exposure you had while serving, gather any supporting documents (medical records, PCS orders, TDY orders, deployment orders, etc.) needed to support your claim or concern.
When the VA Toxic Exposure Screening is Over
If your VA healthcare team becomes aware of any toxic exposures, they will work with you to diagnose and treat the condition. You will be given information on any VA benefits, examinations, and other medical resources you can use if you are diagnosed with a toxic exposure or symptoms of a disease associated with it.
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About the author
Editor-in-Chief Joe Wallace is a 13-year veteran of the United States Air Force and a former reporter/editor for Air Force Television News and the Pentagon Channel. His freelance work includes contract work for Motorola, VALoans.com, and Credit Karma. He is co-founder of Dim Art House in Springfield, Illinois, and spends his non-writing time as an abstract painter, independent publisher, and occasional filmmaker.