The Korean War began on June 25, 1950 when North Korean soldiers crossed the 38th parallel and invaded South Korea. The following month, America sent troops, who continued to be active participants after the war ended in July 1953, monitoring the demilitarized zone. Veterans of the Korean War may be eligible for benefits available to all U.S. veterans, such as disability compensation, home loans, health care and burial, but some benefits relate specifically to injuries from the Korean War.
Injuries from Cold Weather
Korean War veterans who served during the Chosin Reservoir Campaign in October to December 1950 were exposed to temperatures of -50 F and a wind chill factor of -100 F without proper protection. Medical conditions relating to exposure to this temperature include arthritis, skin cancer in frostbite scars, fallen arches, sensitization to cold and, peripheral vascular disease and diabetes as the veteran ages. Korean War veterans, like other veterans subjected to extreme cold, may apply for disability compensation.
Compensation and healthcare benefits may be available to Korean War veterans who were exposed to ionizing radiation during their active duty. Veterans of all recent wars may have been exposed while working in a reactor plant, as an X-ray technician, in radiography or in nuclear medicine. One available benefit is treatment at the Veterans Affairs' War Related Illness and Injury Study Center, after an Ionizing Radiation Registry health exam. Financial compensation may also be available if the veteran suffered from certain cancers, such as lung, skin, liver, stomach, colon, kidney and prostate.
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Compensation and healthcare benefits may be available to Korean War veterans, along with WWII veterans, who participated in activities relating to nuclear weapons testing. Informally known as "Atomic Veterans," such veterans receive benefits similar to those available to veterans exposed to ionizing radiation, including a health exam and compensation for certain cancers. Also, unlike those veterans exposed to ionizing radiation, financial compensation may be available to Atomic Veterans through the U.S. Department of Justice and the Radiation Exposure Compensation Program.
In January 2011, the Veterans Administration issued a press release about a new regulation that extends the dates of eligibility for exposure to the herbicide Agent Orange during service in the Korean demilitarized zone. Previously, disability benefits and healthcare were available to veterans who served in the DMZ from April 1968 to July 1969. Eligibility has now been extended to veterans who served in the DMZ from April 1968 to August 1971.