Korean J Epidemiol.  2001 Jun;23(1):23-35.

Epidemiological Researches on the Health Hazards in Veterans of United States of America

  • 1Department of Preventive Medicine, Dongguk University College of Medicine.


The Department of Veterans Affairs(VA) maintains some large automated databases that provide the opportunity for studying long-term health effects of military service. The Beneficiary Identification and Record Locator Subsystem(BIRLS) is an excellent source of vital status information on veterans. The VA Patient Treatment File(PTF) is a computerized hospital discharge abstract system of inpatient records, including patients' demographic data, surgical and procedural transactions, and patient movements and diagnosis. The computerized Agent Orange Registry data include veteran's name, address, some information on military service, and findings at the time of his physical examination. The US conducted 235 atmospheric nuclear tests from 1945 through 1962. Many of the 250,000 test participants were exposed to low levels of radiation. The overall average radiation dose was estimated as 0.6 rem per year. In 1976, a claim relating acute myelocytic leukemia to radiation exposure from nuclear weapon testing received extensive publicity. Several thousand "atomic veterans" have sought medical care and compensation from VA for medical conditions that they believe are related to the nuclear weapon testing. Many WWII veterans have contracted the US VA about health problems that they attribute to their exposure to mustard gas. From 1962 to 1971, 75 million liters of herbicides, including over 41 million liters of the phenoxy herbicide Agent Orange, were sprayed on almost 9% of Vietnam. Many studies have been conducted to determine the association of various cancers with military service in Vietnam. Some diseases have been compensated for Vietnam veterans. Health problems reported following the Gulf War include a wide variety of symptoms similar to those found in acute combat reaction, posttraumatic stress disorder, and chronic fatigue. Health problems associated with war have continued and in some ways intensified. Therefore, The United States developed a plan for establishing a national center for the study of war-related illnesses and post-deployment health issues.


Veterans; Databases; Nuclear weapons testing; Herbicides; Persian Gulf syndrome

MeSH Terms

Citrus sinensis
Compensation and Redress
Gulf War
Leukemia, Myeloid, Acute
Military Personnel
Mustard Gas
Nuclear Weapons
Persian Gulf Syndrome
Physical Examination
Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic
United States*
Mustard Gas
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