Depleted Uranium Follow-Up Program
VA and the Department of Defense established the Depleted Uranium Follow-up Program at the Baltimore VA Medical Center to screen and monitor Veterans for health problems associated with exposure to depleted uranium (DU).
VA requires active duty service in any of the conflicts listed below to qualify for the DU Follow-up Program:
- Gulf War
- Operation Enduring Freedom
- Operation Iraqi Freedom
- Operation New Dawn
The DU Follow-Up Program has two aspects: 1) for Veterans who were on or in vehicles hit with DU "friendly fire"; and 2) for rescuers entering burning vehicles, and those near burning vehicles; salvaging damaged vehicles; or near fires involving DU munitions.
Screening and follow-up care
Most Veterans concerned about DU exposure during combat were not involved in friendly fire, but had a possible exposure inhaling DU. For these Veterans, VA offers a screening program that involves completing:
- An exposure questionnaire
- A spot urine collection test to measure DU
For Veterans exposed to DU from embedded fragments or with DU-contaminated wounds from friendly fire, the Depleted Uranium Follow-up Program involves:
- Detailed physical exams
- Clinical tests of organ systems function
- Recommendations for treatment, including surgical removal of embedded fragments in some cases
In a group of Veterans exposed to DU in friendly fire events, recent research shows there may be an association between elevated urine U results and lower bone mineral density (BMD). The BMD results require further study to determine if they persist over time and researchers and clinicians continue to monitor the health of these Veterans.