New Hampshire Senator Jeanne Shaheen is one of a dozen lawmakers from both parties calling on the Department of Veterans Affairs to provide benefits to members of the military who survived mustard gas testing during World War II.
Recently NPR reported that the Department of Defense tested mustard gas on 60,000 US troops, often grouping them by race or ethnicity. Many survivors have been rejected for health care and other VA benefits.
In the letter, the senators call for a thorough review of all records associated with the testing, and ask the VA to proactively contact each identifiable veteran.
Shaheen says these veterans in their 80s and 90s often don’t have the documentation that most other veterans have for more common claims.
"The VA needs to assess how they’re deciding to honor these claims and be reasonable in looking at what veterans have to show that they were part of these tests," Shaheen says.
The VA’s website allows some veterans who have been exposed to mustard gas to apply for benefits online. Veterans also can apply in person at VA hospitals in Manchester and White River Junction, Vermont
The VA said in a statement it has received the senators’ letter and is working in good faith to make sure veterans receive the benefits they’re entitled to.