All Caregivers matter to us. And, learning about illnesses and conditions other era caregivers experience helps when meeting another caregiver during a VA appointment or at a veteran event. Specifically, cold-related injuries and nuclear testing radiation exposure trouble many veterans of this era.
Korean War conditions include some today’s conditions, but the prevalent differences were cold-related injuries. Frostbite and Trench foot, were major problems during the Korean War. Veterans of the Battle of the Chosin Reservoir had especially high rates of severe cold injuries, and over 5,000 troops required evacuation for the effects of cold injury during the winter of 1950-51. Many veterans never sought VA help due to battlefield conditions or because their service medical records may no longer exist.
Long-term delayed symptoms include peripheral neuropathy (nerve pain), arthritis, foot problems, stiff toes, and cold sensitization. Age may worsen these conditions, and complications such as diabetes or peripheral vascular disease put them at higher risk for late-in-life amputations.
|Photo: John P. Collins|
Many Korean War veterans may have participated in 250 atmospheric and underwater nuclear weapons tests conducted primarily in Nevada and the Pacific Ocean between 1945 and 1962. These vets are known at A-Vets or Atomic Veterans, and number 560,000 troops. Approximately 195,000 surviving "Atomic-Vets" alive today may not know that their "oath-of-secrecy" tied to their nuclear weapons testing duty has been lifted, allowing them to now speak freely of their personal experiences. A-Vets may be entitled to "service-connected" benefits for illness caused by their exposure to atomic radiation particles while on active duty, and benefits are also available to spouses of deceased Atomic-Veterans.
The National Association of Atomic Veterans is a strong resource, and please go to the Video Resource section of www.VeteranCaregiver.com to have a larger list of resources mailed directly to your inbox. We appreciate the caregivers of the Korean War and hope that caregivers of every era support one another in whatever ways possible!
Linda Kreter & the