War Related Illness and Injury Study Center
Frequently Asked Questions
- How is the WRIISC Program different from other VA Programs?
The WRIISC Program is different from other VA health care programs in that our primary mission is to address the unique post-deployment health concerns of Veterans. At the WRIISC, we have specialists who focus on the post-deployment health needs of combat Veterans and who have many years of experience evaluating Veterans with deployment health concerns.
- How do I know if I am eligible to be seen at WRIISC?
Generally speaking, all combat Veterans are eligible for WRIISC Programs. Additionally, Veterans who have specific post deployment health concerns may be eligible for WRIISC Programs. Examples of these eligible Veterans include Veterans who participated in the Department of Defense's Ionizing Radiation Experiments and/or Shipboard Hazard And Defense Program.
- How do I obtain a referral if I am interested in the WRIISC Program?
Your VA Primary Care Provider (PCP) and Patient Aligned Care Team (PACT) may make a referral for you. Your VA Registry environmental health provider or post-deployment health champion may also work with your VA PCP to submit a WRIISC referral. Our referral page provides detailed information on this process.
- What information is needed to make a WRIISC referral?
Please see the detailed information about our WRIISC referral process as it provides answers to many questions about what is needed to submit a WRIISC referral.
- How do I get a copy of my WRIISC Evaluation?
Veterans who participate in our WRIISC National Referral Program will receive their completed WRIISC evaluation in the mail once all of the clinical and diagnostic reports are finalized. This may take two to four weeks from the date of evaluation. Veterans who participate in our other WRIISC clinical programs may request a copy of their evaluation records by contacting the Medical Records Department at their respective Medical Centers.
- What does is cost to be seen at the WRIISC?
WRIISC follows VA regulations for travel costs and co-payments. More information on VA travel reimbursement is available here.
- What type of research is done at the WRIISC?
Part of the mission of the WRIISC is to provide cutting edge research on post deployment health issues and research that looks at medically unexplained symptoms. For a list of specific research projects, please visit our research web page.
- Where can I go to find out more information on the possible health effects related to Operation Iraqi Freedom, Operation Enduring Freedom, and Operation New Dawn conflicts?
Troops deployed to Iraq and/or Afghanistan may face a wide variety of potential health hazards including exposure to burning waste and industrial pollutants, infections, agricultural and industrial contamination of water and food, air pollution, and severe sand and dust storms. The Department of Defense is addressing these health concerns by providing vaccinations, carefully monitoring the food and water supplies, and using standard pest control procedures. The VA’s Office of Public Health publishes an Operations Enduring Freedom (OEF), Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF), and Operation New Dawn (OND) Newsletter that provides information to veterans who served in Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom. This Newsletter provides information on deployment health concerns, research, and benefits for OEF, OIF, and OND Veterans. The VA also has an OEF OIF Returning Veterans web site that provides valuable information to OIF and OEF Veterans on VA benefits and other services.
- Where can I go to find out more information about the possible health effects related to the Gulf War?
The Department of Veterans Affairs’ Office of Public Health publishes a Gulf War Review Newsletter that provides information to Veterans who served in Operation Desert Shield and/or Operation Desert Storm. This Newsletter provides information on deployment health concerns, Gulf War research, and Gulf War benefits for Veterans. Gulf War Risk Factor Fact sheets also are available on this web site. Additionally the Department of Defense also has a Deployment Health Clinical Center that provides a great deal of educational information on the psychological impact of Gulf War deployment.
- How do I find out if the illness that I have is related to Agent Orange exposure?
The number of diseases that the VA has recognized as associated with (but not necessarily caused by) Agent Orange exposure are outlined in the latest Agent Orange Review Newsletter. At this time, presumptive service connected conditions linked to Agent Orange are Type 2 Diabetes, Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, Soft Tissue Sarcoma, Hodgkin’s disease, Multiple Myeloma, Prostate Cancer, Respiratory Cancers (including cancers of the lung, larynx, trachea, and bronchus), Amyloidosis, ischemic heart disease, Parkinson's disease, B-cell leukemias, such as hairy cell leukemia, and Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia. Furthermore, several time-limited conditions are recognized as associated with Agent Orange exposure. These conditions are Chloracne or similar acneform disease (must occur within 1 year of exposure to Agent Orange), Prophyria Cutanea Tarda (must occur within 1 year of exposure), and peripheral neuropathy, acute and subacute (must appear within 1 year of exposure and resolve within 2 years of date of onset). VA has proposed to replace "acute and subacute" with "early-onset." In addition, Vietnam Veterans’ children who developed spina bifida are eligible for certain benefits and services. Furthermore, the VA provides certain benefits, including health care, for children with birth defects who were born to female Vietnam Veterans.
- I am interested in the registry program. How do I find out more information?
VA Health registries are one way VA tracks the special health concerns of Veterans. All eligible Veterans who want to be included in VA registries can get a health registry examination at a VA facility performed by a VA Environmental Health (EH) clinician. Health examinations by a private physician also may be accepted as long as the VA registry examination protocol is followed.
Presently, the VA has the following health registry programs:
- Agent Orange: a registry for Vietnam Veterans and others exposed to Agent Orange and other herbicides used in Vietnam and other military locations.
- Gulf War/Operation Iraqi Freedom: a registry for Veterans of the 1991 Gulf War and for veterans of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
- Depleted Uranium: a registry for Veterans who may have possibly been exposed to Depleted Uranium.
- Ionizing Radiation: a registry for Veterans who participated in nuclear tests, were involved in the occupation of Nagaski/Hiroshima, Japan and other radiation-risk activities or who received nasopharyngeal (NP) (nose and throat) radium irradiation treatments.
- Toxic Embedded Fragments: a registry for Veterans who have or likely have an embedded fragment as the result of injury received while serving in an area of conflict.
If you are interested in the VA health registry program, please contact the Environmental Health Coordinator at your local VA. The VA Registry brochure also provides valuable information on the VA Registry Program.
- Is a WRIISC evaluation the same thing as a Registry Examination or a Compensation and Pension Examination?
No. The purpose of the WRIISC evaluation is to provide Veterans with an evaluation and patient education regarding their post-deployment health concerns. While the WRIISC team can provide Veterans with the contact information needed to schedule a registry examination and/or a compensation and pension examination, the WRIISC clinical team does not perform these examinations. More information on registry examinations may be found by reading the VA Registry Brochure. More information on applying for VA compensation and pension benefits may be found at the Veterans Benefit Administration or by calling 1-800-827-1000 ext 110.
- How is the WRIISC Staff qualified to see Veterans with complex illnesses and/or injuries?
Many of our WRIISC clinicians have many years of experience evaluating Veterans with complicated post-deployment health concerns. Additionally, many of these clinicians also are researchers which provides them with a special opportunity to combine their research skills with their clinical knowledge.
- What types of educational programs does WRIISC offer Veterans?
The WRIISC offers a number of educational programs for Veterans and health care providers including conferences, individual deployment health sessions, and website resources. Veterans are encouraged to contact one of the WRIISCs for any specific educational concerns they may have.