Of the approximately 5.7 million veterans who served in the Korean War, about 2.1 million surviving veterans remain, as of 2013. The Korean War spanned three years from 1950 to 1953 when the United States protected South Korea from communist North Korea which China and the Soviet Union had backed.
Many Korean War veterans experienced injuries related to severe cold exposure that later on led to health problems, such as skin cancer, stiff toes, cold sensitization, fallen arches and arthritis. As the veterans got older and developed concurrent conditions such as diabetes and vascular diseases, their risk for late amputations also increased. Some were also exposed to ionizing radiation that increased their risk of developing cancers. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs tailors compensation and benefits to the unique experiences of Korean War veterans.