HIGHLIGHTS

Open

REAL POSSIBILITIES

AARP Real Possibilities
Car buying made easy with the AARP Auto Buying Program

DRIVER SAFETY

Piggy bank on the road - AARP Driver Safety

Take the new AARP Smart Driver Course!

Contests and
Sweeps

Dream Vacation Sweepstakes

10 weeks. 10 amazing trips. Seize your chance to win!
See official rules. 

CHECK OUT OUR
NEW IPAD APP!

ATM Mobile App for iPhone and Ipad

Enjoy the best of AARP’s award-winning publications

on the go with the new

AARP ePubs iPad App

KEEP BRAIN ACTIVE!

AARP Games - Play Now!

AARP BOOKS

Planning for Long-Term Care for Dummies

Get expert advice on planning for your own or a relative’s future care needs.

Webinars

Learn From the Experts

Sign up now for an upcoming webinar or find materials from a past session.

Learning centers

Get smart strategies for managing health conditions.

 

Arthritis

Heart Disease

Diabetes

Most Popular

Viewed

Commented

share your thoughts

What does the health care law mean to you? Your story is important. We read and learn from every story and it helps us in our educational efforts. We may even use your comments (with permission) to brief legislators, inspire readers and more. Please share your story with us. Do

Getting the Word Out to Atomic Veterans Exposed to Radiation

Veteran R.J. Ritter works to reach them with benefits

A total of 557,000 atomic veterans were exposed to lethal radiation. They include those who cleaned up the radioactive Nagasaki and Hiroshima sites after the war, prisoners of war in Japan when the bombs were dropped, and the thousands who witnessed 200 atmospheric nuclear tests conducted primarily in Nevada and in the Pacific Ocean — as the United States set off in a frantic Cold War effort to increase its arsenal of nuclear weapons, according to the Defense Department.

Few collecting damages

In the last three years, NAAV has helped 50 widows apply for benefits, but only a dozen have been successful in their applications, because it is difficult to prove their cases, Ritter says.

The government reports that only 1,641 claims have been approved for a onetime payment of up to $75,000 since 1992. Ninety percent are for veterans, the others for civilians working at the sites, according to Ritter.

The VA has granted at least 1,964 claims to date for monthly disability payments. The VA did not start tracking them electronically until 2006.

"A lot more could have applied," says Paul Blake, of the Defense Threat Reduction Agency, which has the records of the military personnel at every site and can verify an atomic veteran's presence at a deadly test.

Ritter underscores the urgency of finding these aging veterans.

"I am driven more by the fact these guys didn't know what they were doing. I didn't know what I was doing. I was 17," Ritter says. "I get great satisfaction in getting a call from someone who says, 'I just got my check. Thank you.' "

Also of interest: Medical imaging and too much radiation. >>

Judi Hasson is a writer in McLean, Va.

Topic Alerts

You can get weekly email alerts on the topics below. Just click “Follow.”

Manage Alerts

Processing

Please wait...

progress bar, please wait

Tell Us WhatYou Think

Please leave your comment below.

Health Blog

Discounts & Benefits

bring health To Life-Visual MD

AARP bookstore

AARP Bookstore - woman reaches for book on bookshelf

VISIT THE HEALTH SECTION

Find titles on brain health, drug alternatives, nutrition and losing weight. Do