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There are two broad types of radiation, non-ionizing and ionizing. Ionizing radiation sends out extremely high energy, which may pose a health risk.
Ionizing radiation exposure comes from a variety of sources, including nuclear weapons testing or other activities during military service.
VA offers a free Ionizing Radiation Registry health exam to all eligible Veterans to alert them to possible long-term health problems.
Find out what diseases are related to radiation exposure.
View benefits for Veterans exposed to radiation and their survivors.
Determine whether you were exposed to radiation during service.
VA has resources to help providers care for Veterans.
Find out what radiation-related research is completed and ongoing.
View publications and other related materials.
Energy given off from a source with enough energy, so that during an interaction with an atom, it can remove tightly bound electrons from the orbit of an atom, causing the atom to become charged or ionized.
A variety of activities associated with military service, including nuclear weapons handling and detonation, weapons and other military equipment made with depleted uranium, radioactive material, calibration and measurement sources, and x-rays, and persons monitored for occupational radiation exposure. For detailed information about specific exposure events, visit: https://www.publichealth.va.gov/exposures/radiation/sources/index.asp.
dermal, oral, inhalation
- Ionizing radiation is high-energy radiation that may pose some minimal health risk.
- Non-ionizing radiation is low-energy radiation that includes radiation from sources such as sunlight, microwaves, radio frequencies, radar and sonar. Most radiation of this type poses very minimal health risk.
- VA Radiation webpage
- ATSDR – Ionizing Radiation FAQs
- For the most up-to-date information on exposure to radiation, visit: https://www.publichealth.va.gov/exposures/radiation/sources/index.asp.
- VA Radiation webpage
Get a Registry Evaluation
- VA Environmental Health Coordinator
- Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) / Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) / Operation New Dawn (OND) Team
Contact your local https://www.publichealth.va.gov/exposures/coordinators.asp, https://www.oefoif.va.gov/map.asp, or VA Primary Care Team about getting a registry evaluation.
- War Related Illness and Injury Study Center (WRIISC)
For evaluation for difficult-to-diagnose conditions, contact your local https://www.warrelatedillness.va.gov/WARRELATEDILLNESS/referral/index.asp.
VA presumes amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) diagnosed in all Veterans who had 90 days or more continuous active military service is related to their service.1900 2100 1910 2110 All Conflicts Southwest Asia
Veterans who participated in Project 112/SHAD are eligible for VA health care. VA also provides priority enrollment for Veterans who have a military service-connected disability.
- Cancers of the bile ducts, bone, brain, breast, colon, esophagus, gall bladder, liver (primary site, but not if cirrhosis or hepatitis B is indicated), lung (including bronchiolo-alveolar cancer), pancreas, pharynx, ovary, salivary gland, small intestine, stomach, thyroid, urinary tract (kidney/renal, pelvis, urinary bladder, and urethra)
- Leukemia (except chronic lymphocytic leukemia)
- Lymphomas (except Hodgkin’s disease)
- Multiple myeloma (cancer of plasma cells)
If a Veteran who was exposed to radiation during military service develops one of the diseases listed below and meets other requirements, disability compensation may be provided on a case-by-case basis.
- All cancers
- Non-malignant thyroid nodular disease
- Parathyroid adenoma
- Posterior subcapsular cataracts
- Tumors of the brain and central nervous system
- Other diseases, if supported by medical or scientific evidence
Under Public Law 104-262, \"The Veterans Health Reform Act,\" veterans exposed to radiation-risk activities seeking care for conditions associated with their exposure to ionizing radiation are included in Priority Group 6. Care is provided for these radiation-related conditions without regard to the veteran's age, service-connected status or ability to defray the cost of medical care, and no co-payment by the veteran is required.
For the most up-to-date information, visit: https://www.publichealth.va.gov/exposures/gulfwar/benefits/index.asp1945 1992 World War II USA, East Asia
When no presumed service connection has been established by law, Veterans may file a claim for disability compensation for health problems they believe are related to their exposures during military service. VA decides these claims on a case-by-case basis.1900 2100 All Conflicts All Locations
If you served in the active military service and were separated under any condition other than dishonorable, you may qualify for VA health care benefits. Current and former members of the Reserves or National Guard who were called to active duty by a federal order and completed the full period for which they were called or ordered to active duty may be eligible for VA health benefits as well. Most Veterans who enlisted after September 7, 1980, or entered active duty after October 16, 1981, must have served 24 continuous months or the full period for which they were called to active duty in order to be eligible.1900 2100 All Conflicts All Locations
Certain Veterans may be afforded enhanced eligibility status when applying and enrolling in the VA health care system. Veterans who:1900 2100 All Conflicts All Locations
When a Veteran of any period of service receives a valid diagnosis of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), service connection may be granted if the illness is associated with an in-service stressful event.1900 2100 All Conflicts All Locations
"Depleted Uranium Follow-Up Program screens and monitors Veterans for health problems associated with exposure to depleted uranium (DU). The program is especially geared to Veterans who were on, in or near vehicles hit with 'friendly fire'; rescuers entering burning vehicles, and those near burning vehicles; salvaging damaged vehicles; or near fires involving DU munitions. VA requires active duty service in any of the conflicts listed below to qualify for the DU Follow-Up Program:
- 1990-1991 Gulf War
- Operation Enduring Freedom
- Operation Iraqi Freedom
- Operation New Dawn
- For more information, visit: https://www.publichealth.va.gov/exposures/depleted_uranium/followup_program.asp
Ionizing Radiation Registry screens Veterans for possible long-term health problems related to ionizing radiation exposure. Veterans who meet any of the following criteria are eligible:
- On-site participation in a test involving the atmospheric detonation of a nuclear device, whether or not the testing nation was the United States
- Participation in the occupation of Hiroshima or Nagasaki from August 6, 1945 through July 1, 1946
- Internment as a prisoner of war in Japan during World War II
- Receipt of nasopharyngeal (NP) - nose and throat-radium irradiation treatments while in the active military, naval, or air service
- Service at Department of Energy gaseous diffusion plants at Paducah, KY, Portsmouth, OH, or the K25 area at Oak Ridge, TN, for at least 250 days before February 1, 1992 under certain conditions
- Proximity to \"Longshot,\" \"Milrow,\" or \"Cannikin\" underground nuclear tests at Amchitka Island, AK, before January 1, 1974
- For more information, visit: https://www.publichealth.va.gov/exposures/radiation/benefits/registry-exam.asp
Registry is operated by the Department of Defense (DoD) and provides radiation dose information for service members and Veterans, family members, and other DoD affiliated personnel who may have been exposed to radiation in Japan following the tsunami and subsequent Fukushima Daiichi nuclear reactor accident from March 11, 2011 to May 11, 2011. This registry is not owned or operated by VA, but VA was consulted during its formation.
For more information, visit: https://registry.csd.disa.mil/registryWeb/Registry/OperationTomodachi/DisplayAbout.do2011 2011
Veterans Crisis Line:
Call: 988 (Press 1)
U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs | 810 Vermont Avenue, NW Washington DC 20420
Last updated January 24, 2023