Court: Army liable for medical care of veterans experimented on

A panel of 9th Circuit judges on Tuesday nixed a lower court’s decision against U.S. Army veterans who sought medical care after volunteering to participate in experiments involving chemical and biological weapons.

The plaintiffs included those individuals who participated in the experiments in addition to advocacy groups Vietnam Veterans of America, Swords to Plowshares and Veterans Rights Organization, according to an opinion summary.

They appealed to the higher court, saying the Central Intelligence Agency, the departments of Defense, Army, Veteran Affairs “had an ongoing duty … to provide former test subjects with newly available information relating to their health, and that this duty was judicially enforceable under … the Administrative Procedure Act.”

The federal agencies were also obligated to provide ongoing care, the panel decided. The panel also disagreed with the lower court’s decision that the VA was providing the same level of care the Army would have.

The use of chemical weapons testing on humans was approved by the U.S. government in 1942 and some 60,000 service members had undergone chemical weapons research by the end of World War II.