VA To Begin Study Of Toxic Exposure At K2 Air Base

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VA to Begin Study of Toxic Exposure at K2 Air Base

Published on June 19th, 2020

In response to legislative action from Congress, the Department of Veterans Affairs is opening a new study into the health impacts of exposure to toxic chemicals at the Karshi-Khanabad, or K2, base in Uzbekistan. This former Soviet air force base was used by the American military between 2001 and 2005, and a disproportionate number of service members who served there have developed cancer.

The VA study may take years to complete, and in the meantime, veterans who served in Uzbekistan are falling ill. With little declassified evidence available about the conditions at K2 airbase, these veterans face an uphill battle to obtain their benefits. If you or a loved one who served in Central Asia has been denied disability compensation for cancer, the veterans disability lawyers of Jackson & MacNichol can help. Call us today at 1(888) 492-2941 for a free consultation about appealing your case.

The Military Ignored Evidence of Contamination at K2 Airbase

It’s clear that the military knew about radiation and chemical contamination at K2. As early as 2001, the US Army Center for Health Promotion and Preventive Medicine conducted an environmental baseline study at K2, and they found widespread jet fuel leaks from an underground distribution system. The study also noted high levels of asbestos and depleted uranium in the ground.

In 2015, another Army study found over 60 different cancers among K2 veterans, who had diagnosis rates five times higher than veterans who had served in South Korea. Unofficial accounts from service members at K2 include reports of a pond that glowed green, higher than normal levels of radioactivity, and black liquid oozing up from the ground. Despite this worrying evidence, in 2019 the U.S. Army Public Health Center released a “fact sheet” claiming that veterans who served in K2 did not face any heightened health risks.

U.S. Representatives Mark Green and Stephen Lynch, both veterans who served at K2, were instrumental in having the VA investigate what really happened at the base. They co-sponsored H.R. 5957, the K2 Veterans Toxic Exposure Accountability Act of 2020, which prompted the VA to open the investigation–even though the Act is still in committee. Incidentally, Green has been diagnosed with both thyroid and colon cancer, which he believes to be the result of his service at K2 airbase.

If the legislation passes, then the VA may be compelled to recognize cancer and other illnesses as a presumptive condition for K2 veterans. This would mean that K2 veterans seeking disability compensation would no longer have to prove a connection between their disability and their military service. Proving a service connection is time consuming and fact intensive, and releasing veterans from this requirement can speed up the compensation process. In the meantime, however, the VA requires medial opinion evidence.

A Veterans Benefits Lawyer Can Help With the Appeals Process

Until the VA finishes its study and recognizes a presumption of service connection for disabled veterans who served at K2, obtaining your disability benefits can be a challenge. If you have served in Uzbekistan or at any other base where you were exposed to toxic chemicals, a veterans benefits attorney can help you appeal the denial of your benefits. For a free consultation about your options, call Jackson & MacNichol today at 1(888) 492-2941.

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