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Atomic Vet Benefit Long Time Coming

Surviving children receive one-time maximum benefit through the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act

Kathy Inscho poses with a portrait of her father, Lieutenant Charles Kenneth Storm, US Army atomic weapons mechanic, Friday, April 27, 2012 near her home in San Antonio, Texas.

Charles Storm was exposed to radiation in 1953. — Photo by Todd Spoth Photography

Kathy Inscho, of Spring Branch, Texas, never knew exactly what her father did when he was in the Army — until she acted on a hunch.

Inscho, 55, saw an AARP Bulletin story last November about compensation available to veterans who had developed any of 21 cancers after witnessing atmospheric nuclear tests in the 1950s. Her dad, Charles Kenneth Storm, had battled lymphoma and colon and thyroid cancers before he died in 2007 at age 78.

In January, Inscho filed a claim for her father with the U.S. Justice Department agency that administers the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act (RECA). It researched Storm's military record as a weapons mechanic and found that he had been exposed to 11 atmospheric nuclear tests in 1953 at a test site in Nevada.

As Storm's surviving descendants, Inscho and her two siblings received a one-time, maximum $75,000 benefit.

After the Bulletin article, the Justice Department received thousands of calls for information and has mailed more than 6,000 claim forms. Since beginning in 1992, the program has awarded $138 million.

For more information about qualifying for benefits, contact the Justice Department's RECA review at 1-800-729-7327, the Department of Veterans Affairs at 1-800-749-8387 or the Defense Department's Nuclear Test Personnel Review at 1-800-462-3683.

Also of interest: Medicare and veterans' health coverage.

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