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Veterans Benefit Legislation

Regulation benefiting Vets of Persian Gulf and Afghanistan

VA has proposed extending presumptive service connection to veterans who have served in Southwest Asia Theater of Operation on or after September 19, 2001 and who develop one of the following infectious diseases:
1. Brucellosis
2. Campylobacter jejuni
3. Coxiella burnetii (Q fever)
4. Malaria
5. Mycobacterium tuberculosis
6. Nontyphoid Salmonella
7. Shigella
8. Visceral leishmaniasis
9. West Nile Virus.
With the exception of Malaria, Mycobacterium tuberculosis, and Visceral leishmaniasis, the infectious disease must have become manifest to a degree of 10 percent or more within one year from the date of separation from a qualifying period of service.
Malaria must have become manifested to a degree of 10 percent of more within one year from the separation from a qualifying period of service or at a time when standard or accepted treatises indicate that the incubation period commenced during a qualifying period of service. There is no time limit for Mycobaterium tuberculosis or Visceral leishmaniasis.
If the regulation passes, these diseases will be the first diagnosed illnesses entitled to presumptive service connection associated with service in the Persian Gulf.

Veterans Omnibus Health Services Act of 2010

President Obama is scheduled to sign the Caregivers and Veterans Omnibus Health Services Act of 2010 today, May 5, 2010.

The law addresses a number of issues related to veterans’ health care, including assistance to family caregivers of disabled veterans, expanded health care services for women veterans, greater outreach to rural veterans, and enhancements to VA medical services.

For additional information about the bill, including the full text and a summary, visit https://www.govtrack.us/congress/bill.xpd?bill=s111-1963.

VA to reopen Gulf War veterans’ files

Many veterans who served in Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm are suffering from a range of physical disabilities, chronic ailments, and unexplained illnesses which may be due to an “undiagnosed illness.” Thousands of veterans who served in the Gulf War have come down with a pattern of symptoms that include rashes, joint and muscle pain, sleep issues, and gastrointestinal problems. However the cause of these problems remains unclear.

What is clear is that many Gulf War veterans are suffering from very real physical problems, and they are concerned along with their families about the long and short term consequences of these health problems. Many of these veterans suffering from what’s commonly called “Gulf War illness” have turned to the Department of Veterans Affairs (“VA”) for assistance. Congress has recognized, however, that “many ill Gulf veterans report having been told when they sought medical treatment that their ailments were ‘all in their heads.’” Report of the Special Investigation Unit of Gulf War Illness, 105th Congress. See https://www1.va.gov/rac-gwvi/docs/USSenate_ReportoftheSIUonGulfWarIllnesses_ReportNo105-39PartI_1998.pdf

The Washington Post has recently reported that in an effort to change this attitude on the part of VA, Secretary of Veterans Affairs, Eric K. Shinseki, has confirmed that VA will be re-examining the disability claims of what could be thousands of Gulf War veterans suffering from ailments. VA does not have an estimate of the number of veterans who may be affected, but it could be in the thousands. VA also plans to improve training for medical staff working with Gulf War veterans and a review of “Gulf War illness” regulations to ensure that veterans receive the compensation they are entitled to by law.

Congressional help in dealing with your VA claim

You can obtain information from the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee page at
https://veterans.senate.gov/

At that page, click on the tab that says “VA Benefits Claims Process.” That provides information on the process itself, as well as information about the Senators who serve on the Veterans Affairs Committee and how to contact them for assistance.

The House of Representatives Veterans Affairs Committee page also includes a great deal of information about VA, benefits available, and how to get help with your claim. That page can be accessed at
https://veterans.house.gov/

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