There is an epidemic of toxic contamination at U.S. military bases. Toxins arise from a combination of military-affiliated operations, industrial sources, and natural causes. Pathways for recovery through litigation are particularly limited for veterans who bring suit against the federal government because of judicial interpretations of the Federal Tort Claims Act that preserve sovereign immunity. Benefits offered through the Department of Veteran Affairs are available to veterans who demonstrate a connection between their illness and military service. These benefits are insufficient or unavailable in most cases. A reexamination of presumed medical connection policies is needed for veterans exposed to toxic chemicals, and a new policy framework is proposed.
John W. Hamilton is a JD/MBA Candidate (Class of 2017) at Stanford University.