Afghanistan War Syndrome

The Afghanistan War spanned nearly two decades and tested the resilience, courage and unwavering commitment of the brave men and women who served. From this long war came a set of challenges that Afghanistan war veterans face on a daily basis, also known as Afghanistan War Syndrome.

Afghanistan War Syndrome refers to a set of complex health issues that have directly resulted from the service in Afghanistan. From the rough terrains of the Afghan landscape to the harsh realities of combat, veterans have found themselves in many risky situations during this war that have resulted in long-term health problems after their service.


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In this article, we will go into Afghanistan war syndrome and also discuss how you can receive disability benefits for the health complications you may suffer. Let’s get started.

Explanation of Afghanistan War Syndrome

Explanation of Afghanistan War Syndrome

Afghanistan war syndrome is a multifaceted and challenging health issue that has resulted from military service in Afghanistan. Therefore, it is not a singular diagnosis but rather an umbrella term that covers a wide array of diseases caused by the deployment in the region. Here are some examples –

  • Depleted Uranium Exposure: Exposure to depleted uranium is one of the many threats faced by veterans during their service in Afghanistan. Depleted uranium is a heavy metal that is used for munitions and military equipment and can cause severe health issues, including damaging kidneys.
  • Toxic Embedded Fragments: Toxic Embedded fragments are often overlooked during battles, and they can release toxins when they are inside the body. As a result, exposure to embedded fragments can result in damaged organs.
  • Noise-Induced Hearing Loss: High-decibel noise during combat puts veterans at risk of hearing loss or tinnitus. 
  • Infectious Diseases: Afghanistan veterans were exposed to a range of infectious diseases, including West Nile virus, Coxiella burnetii (Q fever), malaria, Shigella, non-typhoidal Salmonella, tuberculosis, Mycobacterium, Campylobacter jejuni, rabies, etc. 
  • Burn Pits: Burn pits in the Afghanistan war’s military operations have led to veterans suffering from respiratory, gastrointestinal and cardiovascular diseases. 
  • Traumatic Brain Injuries: Traumatic brain injuries or TBI can cause a range of disabilities, including depression, anxiety, memory loss, headaches, dementia, impaired cognitive function, etc. TBI often results from combat incidents. 
  • Chromium Exposure: Chromium exposure is another one of Afghanistan war syndrome that can cause nose problems like holes in the nasal septum, ulcers and respiratory conditions like asthma.
  • Sand, Dust and Particulates: Afghanistan’s harsh environment caused prolonged exposure to sand, dust and particulates among veterans, causing long-term health problems.
  • Chemical Warfare Agents: Chemical warfare agents used in combat cause respiratory and lung damage, coma, seizures and death in severe cases. 

Eligibility for Disability Benefits

To be eligible for disability benefits from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) for Afghanistan war syndrome, you will need to meet certain criteria. These criteria ensure that benefits are provided to veterans with service-connected conditions resulting from their deployment in Afghanistan. Here are all the factors to consider –

  1. Active Military Service

Veterans must have served on active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces. Moreover, service in the National Guard or Reserves may also qualify if it involves federalized active duty service.

  1. Service in Afghanistan

To be eligible, you must have served in Afghanistan or in support of Operation Freedom’s Sentinel (OFS) or Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) in the surrounding regions, such as Uzbekistan and Pakistan. 

  1. Service-Connected Disability

The disability you are claiming benefits for should have a service connection, meaning the condition is directly related to your military service. Moreover, it can also include disabilities that have worsened from your time in the service.

Final Note

If you need help applying for a disability claim for Afghanistan war syndrome, the experts at VA Disability Coach can help build a strong application and get you the rating you deserve. Make sure that you appeal the VA’s decision in case where you receive a rating that’s lower than expected.