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Frequently Asked Questions
This past summer, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) expanded the list of presumptive conditions for disability claims. Specifically, VA is now processing claims for asthma, rhinitis, and sinusitis based on presumed exposure to particulate matter for veterans who: 1) served in the Southwest Asia theater of operations from August 2, 1990 – present or 2) served in Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, Syria, or Djibouti from September 19, 2001 – present, if conditions presented within 10 years of separation from active service. VA’s decision was, in part, aided by more than 250,000 Airborne Hazards and Open Burn Pit Registry participants. The registry is a secure database of health information voluntarily provided by service members and veterans and, while not related to the claims process, is instrumental in enabling VA to improve care and services for veterans.
Registry participation consists of an online questionnaire followed by an optional, but recommended, medical evaluation. The questionnaire helps you document your deployments and exposures to airborne hazards (which can include sand, dust, smoke from oil well fires, and more—not just burn pits) to create a snapshot of your health. Upon completing the questionnaire, you are encouraged to discuss your exposure history and health with a VA provider in a free, optional medical evaluation. Participants also receive information from VA about registry updates.
Service members and veterans who were deployed in the Southwest Asia theater of operations on or after August 2, 1990, or who were stationed in Afghanistan or Djibouti on or after September 11, 2001, are eligible to sign up for the Airborne Hazards and Open Burn Pit Registry.
If you meet the registry eligibility criteria, please consider joining the registry to document your exposure and health information and support the health of other service members and veterans.
Filing a VA Claim
If, within 10 years of separation/retirement, you have symptoms suggestive of any of the three conditions listed above (asthma, rhinitis, and sinusitis), such as chronic cough or ongoing runny nose and sinus congestion, please consider requesting an evaluation by a health care professional to make a diagnosis. If your condition fits with the presumptive conditions, you can file a claim by filling out VA Form 21-526EZ (for first time applicants), or VA Form 20-0995 (for individuals reapplying for these conditions). You can also file a claim if you have another health condition that you feel is related to your military service.
Visit Health.mil/AHBurnPitRegistry for helpful Airborne Hazards and Open Burn Pit Registry materials. You do not need to be enrolled in VA health care to participate, and the registry does not affect access to VA health care or compensation benefits.