In their ongoing effort to identify various toxic environments that service members have been exposed to, the VA has conducted a Phase 1 study of Airman and Groundcrew men. The purpose of the study is to determine whether those individuals experienced certain medical conditions at a higher rate than those of the same race, gender, and sex in general society.
There were 156,050 aircrew and 737,891 ground crew included in the military cohort, which included both Active and Reserve/National Guard Component members. For the cancer incidence analysis, the median age at the end of follow-up for malignant cancer of all sites was 41 years for aircrew and 26 years for ground crew. The median age at diagnosis for malignant cancer of all sites was 52 years in aircrew and 53 years in ground crew.
After adjusting for age, sex, and race/ethnicity, aircrew members had statistically higher incidence of cancers of all sites (by 24 percent), melanoma (by 87 percent), thyroid (by 39 percent), and prostate (by 16 percent), compared to individuals in the U.S. population. Ground crew members had statistically higher incidence of cancer of all sites (by 3 percent), brain and nervous system (by 19 percent), thyroid (by 15 percent), melanoma (by 9 percent), and kidney and renal pelvis (by 9 percent), compared to individuals in the U.S. population.
The study was ordered as part of the William M. Thornberry National Defense Authorization Action Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year (FY) 2021. The purpose of the study was to determine whether or not there is a higher incidence rate of cancers among military aviators and ground crews. These studies are often used by Congress to approve additional presumptive service connections. The study will now move forward with Phase 2 in which the researchers will attempt to determine exactly what the cause of these conditions may be.
At this time, these conditions have not been deemed to be presumptively caused by this service. However, our hope is that once the research has been completed and presented to the appropriate members of Congress, there will be additional presumptive rule promulgated for aircrew and the supporting ground staff.
If you have questions about a certain condition or believe you might be eligible for service connection or need help appealing a recent denial for service connection, please call our office, and speak with one of our qualified Veterans’ Disability attorneys. Gardberg and Kemmerly is committed to helping injured and disabled Veterans obtain the benefits they deserve. If you need help with a disability claim, call the office at 251-343-1111 or 800-332-1529 for a free consultation. Gardberg and Kemmerly is proud to serve Veterans across the country from our home office in Mobile, Alabama.