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Veterans Benefits AdministrationM21-1, Part III - page 52 / 71





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M21-1, Part IIIFebruary 25, 2005

Change 131

g.  Notification Letters.  All GW environmental hazard or undiagnosed illness notification letters (grant or disallowance) must include a reference to the regulation that authorizes compensation for disabilities due to undiagnosed illness lasting six months or longer, and medically unexplained chronic multi-symptom illnesses (such as chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, and irritable bowel syndrome) that began either during active service in the Southwest Asia theater of operations or at any time through September 30, 2011.  See exhibits B.4 and B.5.  Exhibit B.5 contains a notification letter to be sent if there is no change following readjudication of a GW environmental hazard or undiagnosed illness claim.


a.  General.  38 CFR 3.316 authorizes service connection for veterans who underwent any full-body exposure to mustard gas or lewisite during military service.   Service connection may be granted for the following conditions: chronic conjunctivitis, keratitis, corneal opacities, scar formation, nasopharyngeal cancer, lung cancer (except mesothelioma), or squamous cell carcinoma of the skin based on full-body exposure to nitrogen or sulfur mustard during active military service.  Service connection may also be granted for a chronic form of laryngitis, bronchitis, emphysema, asthma, or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease based  on full-body exposure to nitrogen or sulfur mustard or lewisite during active military service, and acute nonlymphocytic leukemia based on exposure to nitrogen mustard during active military service.  Included are veterans:

(1)  Exposed during field or chamber testing;

(2)  Exposed under battlefield conditions in World War I;

(3)  Present at the German air raid on the harbor of Bari, Italy, in World War II;

(4)  Engaged in manufacturing and handling vesicant (blistering) agents during their military service.

b.  Development

(1)  Development for evidence of full-body exposure to mustard gas or lewisite is necessary only if the

veteran claims exposure and has a mustard gas induced condition.

(2)  Compensation claims based on exposure under battlefield conditions during WWI or other types of exposure, may show evidence in service medical records of the acute effects of mustard gas or lewisite exposure.  Delayed effects of exposure may appear even though no acute effects were noted in service.  It is also possible that the veteran may have been exposed to nonservice-related causative conditions or events.

c.  Chemical Exposure Database.  The Defense Manpower Data Center (DMDC) maintains a database containing information on Army and Navy persons who may have been exposed during World War II to mustard gas and lewisite during testing programs, production, storage or transportation.  Written inquiries may be submitted to:

Ms. Shirley Martin

Defense Manpower Data Center

1600 Wilson Boulevard, Suite 400

Arlington, Virginia 22209

(703) 696-7403


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