From 1945 to 1962, between 195,000 and 300,000 United States soldiers were subjected to atomic testing, according to the National Association of Atomic Veterans (NAAV). Unfortunately, most of these veterans are not receiving compensation for the conditions they have developed as a result of their exposure to radiation.
Richard Simpson of Hillsdale, OK is one of these soldiers. He was used as a live subject in atomic bomb testing in 1953. Since then, he has had more than thirty cancerous lesions removed from his body. Although he now has access to VA benefits and receives a small monthly pension, it took him six decades to make that happen.
When Mr. Simpson was discharged from the Marines in 1954, a Navy doctor told him that “the VA would take care of us.” When he went to the VA hospital in Oklahoma city after his discharge, he was told the VA would contact him. They finally followed up on his request for medical help in 2016.
The VA says that it is working hard to improve claims and appeals time. Bobbi Gruner, the deputy director of public affairs for the VA Continental South region, explained: “VA’s claims backlog reached its peak of 611,000 in March 2013. Since then, the department has made enormous improvements in claims processing speed and efficiency. VA now processes the average veteran’s claim in 100.5 days, and the current claims backlog is at a near-historic low of approximately 83,665.”