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Senators slam Veterans Affairs for unkept benefits' vow

Benefits can be vital to a disabled Anoka County resident, particularly for elderly individuals living on fixed incomes. A denial of military veterans' disability benefits may be devastating financially for former military personnel who have filed claims for war-related injuries. A dozen U.S. senators recently admonished the Department of Veterans Affairs for ignoring the financial needs of World War II service members.

The VA declared two decades ago it would try to track down veterans who suffered mustard gas exposure during military weapons tests during World War II. The tests affected approximately 4,000 military members. A news report on National Public Radio brought the fate of many of those veterans to light.

The Department of Veterans Affairs claimed it could locate just 610 of the thousands of veterans exposed to mustard gas during 1940s testing. A researcher for the public radio network decided to try to find more affected individuals and came up with 1,200 locations of deceased and living veterans in two months' time.

The report also claimed a significant number of benefits-eligible service members injured during World War II mustard gas tests had been denied benefits by the VA. The group of senators, predominantly made up of Democrats, responded by sending an open letter to the head of Veterans Affairs demanding an explanation and immediate action to help the affected veterans.

The senators want the VA to state why some older veterans were denied benefits to which injured military personnel are entitled. The head of Veterans Affairs reacted by promising the department would redouble the effort to locate the test subjects and make sure the mustard gas victims get needed services and benefits.

Applicants often accept a denial of veterans' disability and other types of benefits without question. A Minnesota disability attorney will assist an injured veteran with a first-time filing for benefits and may be able to resurrect a denied disability claim.

Source: NPR, "Senators Call For VA To Explain Why It Couldn't Find Mustard-Gassed Veterans," Caitlin Dickerson, July 01, 2015

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