WW II veterans exposed to secret mustard gas tests were never compensated by the VA as promised once the military’s mustard gas tests became declassified in the 1990s. Survivors describe an unending cycle of appeals and denials as they struggled to get government benefits for mustard gas exposure. Now, it looks like the VA has abandoned about 4,000 WW II veterans who were used in the most extreme tests, had permanent injuries and were promised compensation by the Department of Veterans Affairs. Listen to the audio version of the story of these WW II veterans below.
Over the past 20 years, the VA only reached out to 610 of these World War II veterans – and they only reached out once – with a single letter. The Dept. of Veterans Affairs claimed they tried everything to locate all the vets from the mustard gas tests but gave up after not being able to locate them.
The NPR reporters investigating this story found more than 1,200 of those veterans using the VA’s very own lists and public records. How long did it take them to find those WW II veterans? Not over 20 years – only two months.
Listen to the NPR Story of Mustard Gas Tests on WW II Veterans
Department of Veterans Affairs Speaks Up About Abandoning WW II Veterans
The VA’s response to the NPR story is below…
“The Department of Veterans Affairs appreciates the service and sacrifices of those World War II Veterans who may have been injured in mustard gas testing. VA recognizes that disabilities may have resulted due to full body mustard gas exposure. VA has established presumptions of service connection for certain disabilities that may have resulted from this exposure.
“The NPR story rightfully points out the sacrifices that Veterans and their families have gone through during the years when they were sworn to secrecy. VA is prepared to assist any Veteran or survivor who contacts us in determining their entitlement to benefits. Additionally, if NPR is willing to share with us the list of 1,200 or so Veterans who they have been able to identify as having been exposed, VA will attempt to contact them to ensure they are receiving all the benefits and services to which they are entitled under the law.”
WW II Veterans Grouped By Race for Tests
And to make matters worse, it is now being reported that the secret World War II chemical experiments tested troops by race.
While the Pentagon admitted decades ago that it used American troops as test subjects in experiments with mustard gas, until now, officials have never spoken about the tests that grouped subjects by race.
For the first time, NPR tracked down some of the men used in the race-based experiments. And it wasn’t just African-Americans. Japanese-Americans were used as test subjects, serving as proxies for the enemy so scientists could explore how mustard gas and other chemicals might affect Japanese troops. Puerto Rican soldiers were also singled out.
White enlisted men were used as scientific control groups. Their reactions were used to establish what was “normal,” and then compared to the minority troops.