Exposure to Chemical Warfare Agents
Servicemembers who handled or demolished explosive ordnances during Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) and Operation New Dawn (OND) may have been exposed to chemical warfare agents (CWAs) and may experience related health effects. While Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) personnel are most likely to have been exposed, non-EOD personnel may have also been exposed during Improvised Explosive Device (IED) attacks or during the open air demolition or transport of CWAs.
CWAs are toxic chemicals used as a method of warfare, such as mustard agents or sarin. A list of CWAs may be found on Schedule 1 of the Chemical Weapons Convention. Research on the long-term health effects of exposure to CWAs is limited, but VA is collaborating with the Department of Defense (DoD) to better understand the potential health effects.
Were you exposed?
VA and DoD are currently working together to identify and contact active duty Servicemembers and Veterans who may have been exposed to CWAs during OIF and OND. To date, approximately 7,000 Servicemembers with possible exposure have been identified.
If you believe you may have been exposed to CWAs and have not been contacted, please call the DoD hotline at 1-800-497-6261. VA and DoD would like to ensure that your exposures are documented, and that you are aware of any related health care benefits.
Have you completed your free gulf war registry exam?
If you served during OIF or OND you are eligible to receive a free, in-person VA Gulf War Registry exam. To make an appointment, contact your local OEF/OIF/OND Team or your local Environmental Health Coordinator.
The Gulf War Registry is a helpful tool for Veterans and researchers. It is a way for Veterans to learn about the possible health effects of exposure to environmental hazards, and helps VA improve care for those health effects. To learn more, visit www.publichealth.va.gov/exposures/gulfwar/benefits/registry-exam.asp.
You may also be eligible to participate in VA’s Airborne Hazards and Open Burn Pit Registry. By completing an online questionnaire, you can report your exposures and related health concerns. Read "The Burn Pit Registry: What You Need to Know" for more information.
For more information on exposure to CWAs, visit www.publichealth.va.gov/exposures/chemical-warfare-agents-oif.asp.