Veterans Notes: Fast facts about new toxic exposure screening for veterans
During your optional screening, you’ll be asked if you believe you experienced toxic exposures during your military service. If you answer yes, you may be connected to support and resources.
WADENA — If you’re enrolled in VA health care, you can now receive the toxic exposure screening at VA medical centers and clinics across the country. If you’re not enrolled but meet eligibility requirements to enroll, you will have an opportunity to receive the screening after you enroll.
During your screening, you’ll be asked if you believe you experienced toxic exposures during your military service. If you answer yes, you may be connected to support and resources, including a review by your primary care team or provider.
As the screening becomes a regular part of your health care, you may have some questions. Here are some quick facts to get to know the process:
- It’s quick. The screening is a series of questions that takes around 5-10 minutes and can occur as part of one of your regular health care appointments.
- It documents a variety of exposures. There are several types of possible exposures or hazards you may have experienced during your military service. This includes open burn pits and airborne hazards, Gulf War-related exposures, Agent Orange, radiation, Camp Lejeune contaminated water exposure and others.
- It helps support your long-term care plan. The purpose of the toxic exposure screening is to make your VA health care team aware of any potential exposures to toxins during your military service. This allows for ongoing care that ensures early diagnosis and treatment of any health concerns that may arise in the future related to your exposure(s). If you report a potential toxic exposure, it will be noted in your health record. Your primary care team will be made aware of your concerns and will connect you with resources to address your follow-up questions.
- You’ll receive additional information. After your screening, you will also receive information about benefits, registry exams, and clinical resources to address any concerns you may have.
- You can ask about the toxic exposure screening at your next VA health care appointment. If you do not have an upcoming appointment or want to be screened sooner, contact your local VA facility and ask to be screened by the Toxic Exposure Screening Navigator.
- You’ll be screened at least once every five years. Even if you don’t have concerns today, you may in the future. This helps keep your records up to date and ensures exposure concerns are part of your long-term care plan.
- You can decline. If you choose not to be screened, you will have the option to decline until the following year.
There are a couple of things to keep in mind:
- It’s not diagnostic. The screening identifies and documents potential exposures. If there is a need, it will support you in connecting with your health care team. You can also always contact your local VA health care team through Secure Message or call 1-800-MyVA411 and press 8.
- It’s not part of the VA benefits claims process. For information about how to file a claim, visit https://www.va.gov/disability/how-to-file-claim/ .
- Being screened is separate from joining a VA environmental health registry. VA has six registries: Agent Orange, Airborne Hazards and Open Burn Pits, Depleted Uranium, Gulf War, Ionizing Radiation, and Toxic Embedded Fragments. You’ll receive information about registry participation after your screening.
One of the best ways to manage your health is to proactively develop a long-term health care plan with your care team. The new toxic exposure screening can be an important part of that discussion.
For information about enrolling in VA health care, visit https://www.va.gov/health-care/apply/application/introduction .
For more information about the screening and toxic exposures, check out these additional resources:
- Military Exposures – Public Health
As always, see your local County Veterans Service Officer if you have any questions. You can contact your local VSO in Wadena at (218) 631-7617 or by email at email@example.com, and as always, have a great week!