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Highlights

Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO examined secret, U.S. military chemical and biological warfare research experiments that exposed service members to hazardous substances, focusing on: (1) all chemical and biological experiments conducted secretly by the military services during the past 50 years; (2) the Department of Veterans Affairs' (VA) handling of disability claims associated with these experiments; and (3) VA efforts to contact veterans who participated in the experiments and invite them to file claims.

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Recommendations

Recommendations for Executive Action

Agency Affected Recommendation Status
Department of Defense 1. The Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretaries of the Army and the Navy to aggregate and provide information to VA on their past mustard gas testing activities. The information should include the location of the tests, the dates of the tests, the units involved, the types of exposures experienced, and the names of participants to the extent they are available.
Closed - Implemented
Secretaries of the military departments are directed to provide information on the locations, chemicals tested, and dates of each chemical weapons research program. They must also identify military units involved and individuals within the units known to have participated.
Department of Defense 2. The Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretaries of the Army and the Navy to provide a point of contact for VA within each service to assist veterans in obtaining information about their test experiences.
Closed - Implemented
DOD provided points of contact for each military service to the Department of Veterans Affairs.

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