Exposure to Radiation During Military Service

Veterans who served in any of the following situations or circumstances may have been exposed to radiation. This list is not all inclusive.

  1. Fukushima nuclear accident
    Servicemembers may have been exposed to low doses of radiation in Japan from March 12 to May 11, 2011.
  2. Radiation-risk activity includes "Atomic Veterans"
    Activities include participation in nuclear weapons testing and the American occupation of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
  3. Military occupational exposure
    Various military occupations, such as nuclear weapons technicians and dental technicians, include routine and usually safe exposure to radiation.
  4. Depleted uranium
    During an explosion, pieces of depleted uranium used in tank armor and some bullets can scatter and embed in muscle and soft tissue.
  5. LORAN radiation
    U.S. Coast Guard Veterans who worked at LORAN (Long Range Navigation) stations from 1942 to 2010 may have been exposed to X-ray radiation from high voltage vacuum tubes.
  6. McMurdo Station, Antarctica nuclear power plant
    The U.S. Navy operated a small nuclear plant at the McMurdo Station, Antarctica, from 1964 to 1973. The nuclear plant was decommissioned after a leak was discovered.
  7. Nasopharyngeal (nose and throat) radium irradiation treatments
    Certain pilots, submariners, divers, and others were given this treatment during service in 1940 to the mid-1960s to prevent ear damage from pressure changes.
  8. Radiation therapy
    Ionizing radiation can be used for the treatment or diagnosis of disease, most commonly cancer.

Presumptive Diseases Related to Ionizing Radiation


For veterans who participated in a radiation-risk activity during service (including "Atomic Veterans"), the VA assumes that certain cancers are related to their exposure. These are called "presumptive diseases."

  • 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)

Surviving spouses, dependent children and dependent parents of a veterans who participated in a radiation-risk activity and died as the result of one of these diseases may be eligible for survivors' benefits. 

Other Diseases Associated With Radiation Exposure


If a Veteran who was exposed to radiation during military service including "Atomic Veterans" develops one of the diseases listed below and meets other requirements, VA disability compensation MAY BE paid 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

Eligibility depends on how much radiation the veteran received and other factors, such as the period of time between exposure to radiation and the development of the disease.

Surviving spouses, dependent children and dependent parents of a veterans who participated in a radiation-risk activity and died as the result of one of these diseases may be eligible for survivors' benefits. 

The VA also will consider the possibility that other diseases not listed above were caused by radiation, if supported by medical or scientific evidence. To be eligible for compensation, VA must be able to establish that it is at least as likely as not that a veteran's disease was caused by his or her radiation exposure during service.

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis

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, although ALS is not related to radiation exposure.

Submitting a benefit claim to the VA

Veterans exposed to radiation and survivors of veterans that were exposed to radiation and died should contact Tarrant County Veteran Services at 817- 531-5645 if you want to file disability compensation claim with the VA.  We have trained staff that can assist you, free of charge, with the claims process.

Ionizing Radiation Registry Health Exam for Veterans

VA's Ionizing Radiation Registry health exam alerts veterans to possible long-term health problems that may be related to ionizing radiation exposure during their military service. The registry data helps VA understand and respond to these health problems more effectively.

About the Ionizing Radiation Registry Health Exam

This comprehensive health exam includes an exposure and medical history, laboratory tests and a physical exam. A VA health professional will discuss the results face-to-face with the Veteran and in a follow-up letter.
Important points about registry health exams:

  • Free to eligible veterans and no co-payment
  • Not a disability compensation exam or required for other VA benefits
  • Enrollment in VA's health care system not necessary
  • Based on veterans' recollection of service, not on their military records
  • Will not confirm ionizing radiation exposure
  • Veterans can receive additional registry exams, if new problems develop
  • Veterans' family members are not eligible for registry exam

Eligibility for Ionizing Radiation Registry Health Exam


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
  • Involved in the following "radiation-risk activities":
    • 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.

Contact the Radiation Exposure Registry health exam coordinator at the VA hospital in Dallas below to get scheduled for an exam or for more information:

Joan Nerviano
Fax: 214-462-4976