Q: I am a veteran with an honorable discharge. The VA used to print a very informative book titled “Federal Benefits for Veterans, Dependents and Survivors” each year. How can I get a current copy?
A: The VA clinics used to get boxes of the books each year but the VA now distributes only updates to the clinics. A few copies may be available at the eligibility office at the Peoria VA Clinic. The books are for sale by the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, at bookstore.gpo.gov, or by calling toll free 866-512-1800. Online access is www.va.gov/opa/publications/benefits_book.asp.
Did you know?
The National Purple Heart Hall of Honor is located in New Windsor, N.Y. The 7,500-square-foot facility includes exhibits, artifacts and Purple Heart recipient stories. The Roll of Honor electronic database is www.thepurpleheart.com and accessible in The Hall of Honor main gallery.
All veterans who received the Purple Heart should enroll in the database. Forms are available online or at the McLean County Veteran’s Assistance Commission. Enrollment is free and voluntary. Call 845-501-1765 or visit www.thepurpleheart.com.
Q: I recently completed my service in the Army. I served in both Iraq and Afghanistan in an armored unit as “loader” in an Abrams heavy armor tank. I commonly handled munitions with “depleted uranium.” I am not hearing about the potential long-term medical and health problems that may be associated with that exposure. What are the known health effects of contact with depleted uranium munitions or armor?
A: According to the VA, the CDC and the military, many studies were completed prior to and during the deployment of depleted uranium as an ingredient in munitions and as part of the armor of the Abrams heavy armor tank.
These studies looked at information concerning potential health issues and the possible use of materials other than depleted uranium in munitions and armor. Both safety and effectiveness of these materials were studied. Overall, depleted uranium was found to be the best choice for the uses and safety.
Unfired depleted uranium munitions are encased in thin metal jackets that seal in alpha and beta particles, and allow only extremely slight gamma emissions that fall well below regulatory health and safety limits. Depleted uranium panels used in tank armor pose no health risk because the depleted uranium is sealed inside several inches of regular steel armor.
According to studies, the radiation levels measured inside the turret of an Abrams tank are below background levels measured outside the turret, because the armor shields the occupant from cosmic and terrestrial radiation sources. Finally, because depleted uranium munitions are only used in combat (not training), only forward-deployed vehicles are routinely uploaded with depleted uranium munitions.
The 82nd Airborne Association is still looking for veterans who wore the AA patch during their military service. The 82nd, originally known as the “All-Americans” Division, had members from all of the 48 United States at the time it was formed. The division has a monument and museum at Fort Bragg, N.C. Information is at www.82ndairbornedivisionmuseum.com/.
The association is working to place a monument at the U.S. Infantry Museum near Fort Benning, Ga. The 82nd is the only major Army infantry unit without its own monument at the museum.
Veterans who served in the 82nd Airborne Division or their families can visit www.82ndairborneassociation.org/ or call 309-533-8730.