The United States Armed Forces includes depleted uranium (DU) in the manufacture of certain munitions, armor and armor-piercing projectiles, and these were used in large scale - for the first time - during the 1991 Gulf War. Because of its radioactive qualities, there is an increasing interest in what DU is, what it is used for, and its health hazards to those who have been exposed to it.
Provided are Department of Defense and Department of Veterans Affairs information papers and protocol policy that describes the risk levels of persons potentially exposed to DU; as well as, medical and command policies and procedures.
- Dept. of Veterans Affairs, "Evaluation Protocol for Gulf War and Iraqi Freedom Veterans with Potential Exposure to Depleted Uranium (DU)."
- Dept. of Veterans Affairs, "Evaluation Protocol for Non-Gulf War Veterans with Potential Exposure to Depleted Uranium (DU)."
- U.S. Army Center for Health Promotion and Preventive Medicine, "Depleted Uranium - Medical."
- U.S. Army Center for Health Promotion and Preventive Medicine, "Depleted Uranium - Individual."
- U.S. Army Center for Health Promotion and Preventive Medicine, "Depleted Uranium (DU) Urine Bioassay and Fragment Analysis Programs and the USACHPPM Laboratory Quality System."
- Department of the Army, Headquarters, U.S. Army Medical Command, "Medical Management of Army Personnel Exposed to Depleted Uranium (DU)."
The federal Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA) provides compensation and medical services for veterans who have physical, mental or emotional conditions determined to be the result of his/her military service. This determination is a complex process, which is usually initiated with the veteran submitting a disability claim - which is typically based upon an observable, disabling condition. Upon receipt of the claim, the DVA may schedule medical examinations to verify and ascertain the severity of the reported condition. Ultimately, based upon the veteran's military records, civilian medical records and any VA examinations, the VA will formally determine whether or not the claimed condition is military-service connected. If the condition is found to be military-service connected, then the veteran is authorized a specified level of disability compensation and VA medical services to treat the condition.
Whether or not - and to what level - a person has been exposed to DU is attained through a Depleted Uranium Urine Bioassay. This is conducted, as necessitated, while in military service and the results are posted in the person's military medical records. If the person is a veteran with no previous bioassay, a bioassay can be done at personal expense. The federal VA may sponsor the bioassay if the veteran has filed a disability claim, and the conditions reported and subsequently verified warrant the procedure.
Veterans who believe they are experiencing medical conditions due to DU exposure are encouraged to contact one of the Montana Veterans Affairs Division's veterans service offices located throughout the state (locations and telephone numbers in this website under "Addresses"), or call the Fort Harrison VA Center at 442-6410 and ask for a "veterans service officer."