Atomic Veterans were members of the United States Armed Forces who participated in atmospheric and underwater nuclear weapons tests from 16 July 1945 to 30 October 1962. They also include veterans who were assigned to post-test duties, such as “ground zero” nuclear warfare maneuvers & exercises, removing radiation cloud samples from aircraft wing pods, working in close proximity to radiated test animals, decontamination of aircraft and field test equipment, retrieval and transport of test instruments & devices, and a host of other duty assignments that provided an opportunity for a radiation exposure & contamination event.
Also included are military personnel who were a part of the occupation forces assigned to Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan soon after the detonation of atomic bombs over those respective cities, and those American prisoners of war ( POW’s ) who were housed in close proximity to those cities. These Veterans fit the VA’s “official” description of an Atomic Veteran.
There is a second group of veterans who may have been involved in radiation exposure events. These include post test events related to nuclear weapon devices detonated underground or in shafts ( after 1962 ) that may have provided a radiation exposure event, or those whose duties involved regular use of radiation-producing equipment or processes, such as power plant technicians aboard nuclear powered aircraft carriers and submarines, x-ray technicians, and those veterans assigned to the Enewetak Atoll, Polomares Spain and Thule Greenland radiation clean up projects. These veterans fit the VA’s “official” description as occupational radiation-exposed veterans.
More information on who is an Atomic Veteran can be found here.