Last month, the National Defense Authorization Act was signed. Included in this bill was a provision called the Jack Alderson Toxic Exposure Declassification Act, which calls for the declassification of documents from decades ago that could link veterans to toxic substance exposure.
Named after Jack Alderson, a veteran and former Senior Navy Officer who became sick following exposure to toxic substances during tug operations in the 60s, this act seeks to find truth and transparency for fellow sailors and service members who took part of classified missions.
After advocating on his behalf, Representative Mike Thompson was able to get this inclusion added. “For decades, veterans and civilians have been fighting to learn the truth about their exposure to toxic substances,” Thompson’s statement says. He continues, “Veterans will now have the chance to get the answers and services they deserve.”
Why is this important for you?
Veterans who have health conditions that are linked to exposure to toxic substances during their military services are eligible to apply for disability benefits for health care from the VA. The Department of Defense has kept many missions and projects that resulted in exposure to toxic substances classified, despite having taken place decades ago. This policy prevents veterans from accessing and using their service records to establish their service-connected conditions and securing a disability rating that grants them eligibility for care and benefits.
The Jack Alderson Toxic Exposure Declassification Act will allow veterans who are linked to classified operations to get access to documents that prove their disabilities are associated with service-related exposure, thus qualifying them for VA disability benefits.
If you believe the Jack Alderson Toxic Exposure Declassification Act could apply to you, call our advocate for veterans at (855) 855-8992 or complete our free online veterans disability case evaluation form.