Army Official Apologizes to Veterans Harmed by Exposure to Chemical Weapons in Iraq

Law Firm Newswire



Tampa, FL (Law Firm Newswire) April 23, 2015 – On March 25, the military pledged to provide appropriate treatment and awards for injured service members.

In a rare expression of military contrition, Under Secretary Brad R. Carson apologized for the Army’s substandard treatment of U.S. troops who were exposed to chemical weapons while serving in Iraq. The under secretary also spelled out new measures to provide medical care for those veterans suffering from chemical exposure and to recognize veterans harmed by chemicals who had previously been denied awards.

Former Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel appointed Carson last fall to oversee a working group charged with identifying service members who had been exposed to chemical weapons and to offer them support, including medical screening. The group was established after chemical exposure reports surfaced, claiming that the military never publicly acknowledged incidents in which U.S. troops sustained injuries from exposure to blister or nerve agents. Subsequently, these service members received substandard medical care, and some were denied military awards.

Carson admitted that the military did not honor its own policies for treating service members who had been exposed to old or abandoned chemical munitions that lingered in Iraq despite post-invasion efforts to eradicate them. He added that one soldier burned by sulfur mustard agent who had been denied a Purple Heart will now receive one — the first of more such medals Carson expects the military to confer upon veterans harmed by exposure to chemical weapons.

“As the number of U.S. troops injured by exposure to chemical weapons in Iraq has multiplied, it has become increasingly difficult for the military to withhold recognition that a major problem exists. It has become just as difficult to avoid offering the care affected service members deserve,” said David W. Magann, a prominent attorney in Tampa, Florida whose firm specializes in legal services for veterans. “Acknowledgement of the issue and the secretary’s apology are welcome, though belated, moves by the military to bring its actions in line with its own policies.”

In his apology statement, Carson detailed new military guidelines that will identify veterans who have suffered exposure to chemical weapons or chlorine (a common makeshift chemical weapon). He promised that the respective military services will contact such veterans, evaluate them in a structured interview, and possibly ask them to participate in a full medical examination. The guidelines will ensure that affected veterans will be screened and properly treated, he added.

“Stepped-up reporting over veterans’ suffering due to exposure to chemical weapons has also raised public awareness that service members face multiple occupational hazards,” Magann said. “Now, it will be incumbent upon the Department of Veterans Affairs to document the cases of such veterans, process their claims, and provide them with the treatment and follow-up care they need.”

Learn more at David W. Magann, P.A. Main Office: 156 West Robertson Street Brandon, FL 33511 Call: (813) 657-9175 Tampa Office: 18715 N Dale Mabry Hwy Lutz, FL 33548