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Post: Veterans Notes: VA has screened 5 million veterans for toxic exposures

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Veterans Notes: VA has screened 5 million veterans for toxic exposures

David Anderson The Department of Veterans Affairs announced that it has screened 5 million veterans for toxic exposures, a critical step to detecting, understanding, and treating potentially life-threatening health conditions. Of the 5 million veterans who have received the screening, 2.1 million (43%) reported at least one potential exposure.

The screening takes five to 10 minutes and begins with VA health providers asking veterans if they believe they experienced any toxic exposures while serving in the armed forces. Veterans who answer yes are then asked follow-up questions and offered connections to information on benefits, registry-related medical exams, and other clinical resources, as indicated. Their responses to the screenings are then added to their VA medical record to be included as part of their future care.

This milestone comes just 13 months after the screening launched at VA medical centers and clinics nationwide as a part of the PACT Act. The PACT Act expanded VA health care and benefits to millions of Veterans, paving the way for VA to deliver more care and more benefits to more Veterans than ever before in 2023.

“By screening Veterans for toxic exposures, we can improve their health care and detect potential health challenges as early as possible,” said VA Secretary Denis McDonough. “This leads to better health outcomes and better quality of life for these heroes who were exposed to toxins while serving our country.”

“We have made significant progress toward our goal to screen all Veterans enrolled in VA health care for toxic exposures at least once every five years,” said VA Under Secretary for Health Shereef Elnahal. “But most importantly, this milestone means we’ve had 5 million opportunities to provide veterans with the exposure-informed care they deserve.”

The screening covers a variety of different types of toxic exposures, but the two most reported exposures are burn pits and Agent Orange, which together make up more than 60% of Veteran responses. More than half of the veterans screened (2.6 million) are 65 years old or older, with veterans under 45 making up just over 900,000 of those screened. Of the nearly 650,000 women veterans who regularly use […]

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