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Airborne Hazards and Burn Pits Center of Excellence

AHBPCE Frequently Asked Questions

Have questions about clinical evaluations at the Airborne Hazards and Burn Pits Center of Excellence or one of our Post-Deployment Cardiopulmonary Evaluation Network (PDCEN) locations? See our most frequently asked questions below.

How does a Veteran get a PDCEN evaluation?
To be considered for a specialty evaluation through the PDCEN, Veterans must first register for the Airborne Hazards and Open Burn Pit Registry. Our clinicians screen the Registry to identify Veterans with specific reports of respiratory health concerns and who may have had a previous workup. Selected Veterans are then invited to participate in an in-person evaluation at one of the PDCEN sites.
Can a doctor refer a Veteran for a PDCEN evaluation?
The PDCEN selects Veterans with specific health conditions for evaluation after they have had a workup by their local VA and if problems persist. The AHBPCE also develops best practices and educates providers on how best to diagnose airborne hazard-related respiratory issues.
What should a Veteran expect at the end of a PDCEN evaluation and after?
After the evaluation is completed, the evaluating site's providers come together to look at the results and develop a comprehensive assessment of the Veteran's primary health concerns. This is known as the final Summary Visit report. During this final visit, the Veteran will be provided with information regarding any specific respiratory or related conditions they have, whether the conditions are likely to be related to airborne hazard exposure and which treatments or follow-up care protocols are recommended as a next step. This report is also placed in a Veteran's medical record and can be shared with their primary care team for follow-up care as needed.
Is the PDCEN evaluation related at all to a VA compensation and pension (C&P) exam?
An in-depth evaluation through the PDCEN is intended to determine or diagnose the health effects Veterans may be experiencing. It can also lead to possible treatment recommendations for follow-up care with your primary care team. Although a PDCEN evaluation is separate from a compensation and pension exam process, Veterans can share the information from their PDCEN evaluation with a compensation and pension examiner for additional context on the health concerns they are experiencing.
What is the difference between an Airborne Hazards and Open Burn Pits Registry exam and the PDCEN evaluation?
An Airborne Hazards and Open Burn Pits Registry (AHOBPR) exam can be requested after a Veteran completes the first part of the Registry. The exam may be done by a local physician or primary care provider at a VA medical center or an environmental health clinician. The Registry exam can be directly scheduled by the Veteran.

A more in-depth PDCEN evaluation is by invitation only and uses criteria such as reported health concerns and if there has been a previous diagnosis. This evaluation is performed by trained specialty physicians, many of whom are actively conducting research on airborne hazard exposures as they relate to specific respiratory health concerns.
What options are available to Veterans if they are not eligible for the PDCEN evaluation?
There are multiple options for Veterans who do not qualify for the PDCEN evaluation:
  • Veterans can schedule an Airborne Hazards and Open Burn Pits Registry exam with their local environmental health coordinator.
  • VA physicians can refer Veterans who are experiencing unexplained symptoms with no relief to the War Related Illness and Injury Study Center (WRIISC) through a WRIISC Inter Facility Consult (IFC).
  • There may also be local options at the medical facilities that house the PDCEN through post-deployment clinics.
    • If needed, providers can also make a referral for an appointment with a pulmonary specialist at their local VA medical center.
  • Veterans can be referred to a specialist provider at their local VA medical center by their primary care provider for specific concerns in the following areas:
    • Pulmonary
    • ENT
    • Allergy/Immunology
    • GI
  • A Veteran's primary care provider can initiate the work up for health problems identified, then refer the Veteran to specialists or treat the concerns themselves.
How does a PDCEN evaluation or AHOBPR exam effect a Veterans benefits/disability claim?
Veterans can learn how to apply for a VA disability claim here:

Reports from a PDCEN evaluation may be used as evidence to support a Veteran's claim, but the evaluation does not replace a compensation and pension exam.