Veterans Exposed to AFFF: What Resources Are Available?


Military firefighting has used Aqueous film-forming foam (AFFF) since the ’70s, for many years. The chemical component, per and poly fluoro-alkyl (PFAS),  present in the foam is a suspected carcinogen. As awareness of its health impacts spreads, exposed veterans are seeking support, though the path ahead remains challenging. 

As scientific data continues to mount over this complex class of chemicals, resources emerge to guide affected veterans through newly available healthcare, disability benefits, and legal options.  

The Environmental Working Group has identified approximately 710 military sites solely within the United States where there are known or suspected discharges and exposures to PFAS.

This blog post aims to spotlight key support veterans can access across the medical, government, and legal realms while empowering those impacted to advocate for expanded AFFF research and recognition.


Health Risks and Concerns

The diverse nature of military roles exposes veterans to AFFF in varied environments. 

  • Handling firefighting foam during an actual calamity risks direct contact and chemical inhalation. 
  • Post-incident cleanup duties and maintaining foam-covered equipment also lead to exposure over months or years. 
  • Even participating in training exercises using AFFF sprays poses a contamination threat as chemicals linger on gear and permeate soil and groundwater. 
  • The firefighting gear also puts the heroes in direct contact with the carcinogens.

Each type of exposure provides a pathway for toxic PFAS substances to enter the body through absorption, ingestion, or inhalation.

Over a dozen types of cancer show increased prevalence among veterans exposed to these chemicals, including prostate, kidney, liver, and bladder cancers. 

Autoimmune disorders, thyroid disease, and reproductive issues are also tied to AFFF exposure. The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) continues to fund widescale health studies like the ATSDR’s PFAS Health Study. It assesses exposure extent among veterans and illuminates long-term impacts across conditions. 

If you are a veteran who has a history of exposure to PFAS chemicals,  regular medical exams are recommended to ensure emerging AFFF-affiliated diagnoses. 

Documenting the health journey is essential for future firefighter foam cash settlements and healthcare eligibility. Staying on top of new evidence linking PFAS to illnesses can empower you to demand equitable treatment and care.


Available Resources

Navigating complex health impacts from toxic exposure in the service of one’s country is challenging, yet assistance exists across government, legal, and social channels. 

Veterans may access healthcare, disability income, job retraining, veteran peer support, potential lawsuit compensation, and more by leveraging the following resources:


VA Benefits

If you wish to qualify for VA disability benefits, then you must show illness resulting from active service during which you were exposed to PFAS. Filing a VA disability claim starts with an important step: receiving a disability rating from the VA. 

This rating reflects the severity of your condition and directly impacts your potential monthly compensation. Ratings range from 0% (no disability) to 100% (total disability), increasing in 10% increments. The good news? Any rating of 10% or above opens the door to monthly compensation from the VA to help you manage your condition.

Recent VA guidance accepts direct AFFF contact as presumptive evidence, potentially streamlining claim approvals. 

To begin your application, call VA hotlines to learn about claim options, then elicit veterans organizations’ guidance in assembling evidence. Advocacy groups also track new legislation expanding veteran access to AFFF-related benefits.


Legal Support

Lawsuits against AFFF manufacturers like Tyco, Chemguard, and 3M for hiding health impacts continue escalating. According to TorHoerman Law, you should consult with legal groups vetted by veterans associations before signing with counsel. Compensation remains unpredictable in this still-emerging legal realm, so investigate your options in an exhaustive manner.


Support Groups and Advocacy

Veteran support groups and organizations, like the Armed Forces Families Foundation, can be great safe spaces for you. Here, you can choose to be in touch with peers also affected by AFFF and build connections with professional healthcare, benefits, and legal resources. 

In online forums, afflicted veterans exchange guidance on navigating complex healthcare systems and disability claims processes. 


Additional Resources

Staying on top of the latest news and research around AFFF and PFAS is key. Having the most up-to-date information from reliable sources empowers veterans to get the care they need and deserve.

Try keeping tabs on websites like that of ATSDR and signing up for email updates from veterans’ groups invested in advocating for more research. That way, when new studies and guidance or legislation come out, it lands right in your inbox.

And, we can’t stress enough how much your personal story and experience matter to driving change on this issue. Scientists rely on real-world accounts to shape their work, and politicians need to hear from constituents. 

So when you have the bandwidth, speak out online or locally about how your health has been impacted. It might make a world of difference. Staying informed, plugged into communities, and making your voices heard keeps that ball moving toward more support. You got this!

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