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VA Increases the Number of Qualifying Presumptive Illnesses

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Advocate for the Disabled
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March 30, 2010 - There are specific service-related diseases and illnesses related to deployments to the Persian Gulf War and Afghanistan. The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is now making it easier for veterans suffering from these illnesses to receive disability compensation.

VA Secretary Eric Shinseki said this was the beginning of an enormous change for how Gulf War veteran's disabilities and illnesses are viewed by the VA. The VA's proposed new rule focuses on 9 specific service-connected infectious diseases and lists them as presumptive illnesses.
These diseases are all linked to deployments during the Persian Gulf War (but limited to service in Southwest Asia) and Afghanistan subsequent to Sept. 19, 2001.

Presumptive illnesses are those illnesses that automatically qualify for VA disability compensation. The 9 diseases all threaten veterans with long-term health problems and veterans must show a diagnosis of one of the following:

  • Brucellosis;
  • Campylobacter jejuni;
  • Coxiella burnetii (Q fever);
  • Malaria;
  • Mycobacterium tuberculosis;
  • Nontyphoid salmonella;
  • Shigella;
  • Visceral leishmaniasis; and
  • West Nile virus.

 If a veteran is suffering from illnesses not on the presumptive condition list, that veteran must provide specific information to the VA. The VA requires:

  • Medical evidence establishing military-service in either Southwest Asia or Afghanistan; and
  • A specific disease tied to their deployment.

The 1998 Persian Gulf War Veterans Act binds Secretary Shinseki to review the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) reports on Gulf war illnesses. The Persian Gulf War was never declared over. Therefore, veterans serving in Operation Iraqi Freedom fall under the umbrella of the presumptive conditions. Secretary Shinseki included Afghanistan veterans because a NAS report found Afghanistan contained the 9 diseases in widespread numbers.

Secretary Shinseki's goal was to create a scientific link between military service and Gulf War Syndrome. Once this significant link was established, it paved the way for veterans to receive their much deserved benefits.

Category: Veterans' Disability

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