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Missouri WWII vet finally gets benefits for mustard gas claim

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JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) – A World War II veteran who says he was exposed to mustard gas experiments at a former southwest Missouri military camp has been awarded federal benefits.

Missouri U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill announced on Monday that the Department of Veterans Affairs is granting Arla Harrell monthly benefits. He’s also getting back-benefits from the time his family first applied for aid in 1991.

McCaskill’s office says the military tested mustard gas and the blister agent lewisite on about 60,000 veterans, including Harrell. But Harrell had been repeatedly denied disability benefits.

He won benefits after President Donald Trump in August signed legislation requiring the government to reconsider disability benefits denied to those who claim the testing caused health problems.

McCaskill had sponsored that legislation, which later passed as part of another veterans bill.