USAVA Extends Coverage for Gulf War Veterans

WASHINGTON — Vet­er­ans of the first Gulf War as well as cur­rent oper­a­tions in Iraq and Afghanistan now have a smoother path toward receiv­ing health-care ben­e­fits and dis­abil­i­ty com­pen­sa­tion for nine dis­eases asso­ci­at­ed with their mil­i­tary ser­vice, Sec­re­tary of Vet­er­ans Affairs Eric K. Shin­se­ki announced today.

A final reg­u­la­tion pub­lished in today’s Fed­er­al Reg­is­ter relieves vet­er­ans of the bur­den of prov­ing these dis­eases are ser­vice-relat­ed: Bru­cel­losis, Campy­lobac­ter jeju­ni, Cox­iel­la Bur­netii (Q fever), Malar­ia, Mycobac­teri­um tuber­cu­lo­sis, Non­ty­phoid Sal­mo­nel­la, Shigel­la, Vis­cer­al leish­ma­ni­a­sis and West Nile virus. 

Shin­se­ki added the new pre­sump­tions after review­ing a 2006 Nation­al Acad­e­my of Sci­ences Insti­tute of Med­i­cine report on the long-term health effects of cer­tain dis­eases suf­fered among Gulf War veterans. 

He also extend­ed the pre­sump­tions to vet­er­ans of Afghanistan, based on NAS find­ings that the nine dis­eases are preva­lent there as well. 

The new pre­sump­tions apply to vet­er­ans who served in South­west Asia begin­ning on or after the start of Oper­a­tion Desert Shield on Aug. 2, 1990, through Oper­a­tion Desert Storm to the present, includ­ing the cur­rent con­flict in Iraq. Vet­er­ans who served in Afghanistan on or after Sept. 19, 2001, also qualify. 

For Shin­se­ki, who pledged to hon­or the 20th anniver­sary of the Gulf War by improv­ing health-care access and ben­e­fits for its 697,000 vet­er­ans, the new pre­sump­tions rep­re­sent a long-over­due step in address­ing the med­ical chal­lenges many face. 

“This is part of his­toric changes in how VA con­sid­ers Gulf War vet­er­ans’ ill­ness­es,” he said. “By set­ting up sci­en­tif­i­cal­ly based pre­sump­tions of ser­vice con­nec­tion, we give these deserv­ing vet­er­ans a sim­ple way to obtain the ben­e­fits they earned in ser­vice to our country.” 

The new pre­sump­tions ini­tial­ly are expect­ed to affect just under 2,000 vet­er­ans who have been diag­nosed with the nine spec­i­fied dis­eases, John Gin­grich, VA’s chief of staff, told Amer­i­can Forces Press Ser­vice. He acknowl­edged that the num­bers are like­ly to climb as more cas­es are identified. 

With the final rule, a vet­er­an needs only to show ser­vice in South­west Asia or Afghanistan dur­ing the spec­i­fied time peri­ods to receive dis­abil­i­ty com­pen­sa­tion, sub­ject to cer­tain time lim­its based on incu­ba­tion peri­ods for sev­en of the diseases. 

“It gives them eas­i­er access to qual­i­ty health care and com­pen­sa­tion ben­e­fits,” Gin­grich said. “The mes­sage behind that is that the VA is striv­ing to make access to health care eas­i­er for our vet­er­ans who have served in our com­bat zones.” 

He expressed hope that by pro­vid­ing quick, easy access, VA will help vet­er­ans get the care they need ear­ly on, with­out hav­ing to fight the bureaucracy. 

“When we find these pre­sump­tions and we reach out and get the vet­er­ans into our sys­tem, we can help them and give them the prop­er med­ical care they need, and maybe keep their dis­ease from get­ting worse or get­ting it to go away alto­geth­er,” he said. 

It also will help elim­i­nate the piles of paper­work and long claims adju­di­ca­tion process vet­er­ans had to go through to prove their cas­es to receive care and ben­e­fits. “This will help break the back of the back­log in the long run, while send­ing a reas­sur­ing mes­sage to vet­er­ans that the VA is there for them,” Gin­grich said. 

He called the new pre­sump­tions part of Shinseki’s effort to “cre­ate a cul­ture of advo­ca­cy” with­in VA that builds trust as it reach­es out to veterans. 

For Gin­grich, a Gulf War vet­er­an him­self, the effort is very per­son­al. He remem­bers being deployed as a 1st Infantry Divi­sion field artillery bat­tal­ion com­man­der dur­ing Oper­a­tion Desert Storm, when one of his offi­cers became very sick with an ill­ness nobody could diagnose. 

“The medics could­n’t diag­nose it. We called in the doc­tors and they could­n’t diag­nose it. And even­tu­al­ly, he had to be mede­vaced back,” he recalled. “And now here we are, 20 years lat­er, and I saw him in Dal­las in August, and he is still sick. You can’t iden­ti­fy all the rea­sons and symp­toms, but he is sick.” 

Vet­er­ans deserve bet­ter, Gin­grich insist­ed. “I believe that our vet­er­ans that served in uni­form for our coun­try deserve the absolute best care and ben­e­fits that we can pro­vide,” he said. 

VA pro­vides com­pen­sa­tion and pen­sion ben­e­fits to more than 3.8 mil­lion vet­er­ans and ben­e­fi­cia­ries, and received more than 1 mil­lion claims last year alone, VA offi­cials report­ed. Vet­er­ans with­out depen­dents receive a basic month­ly com­pen­sa­tion rang­ing from $123 to $2,673.

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs) 

Face­book and/or on Twit­ter

Team GlobDef

Seit 2001 ist im Internet unterwegs, um mit eigenen Analysen, interessanten Kooperationen und umfassenden Informationen für einen spannenden Überblick der Weltlage zu sorgen. war dabei die erste deutschsprachige Internetseite, die mit dem Schwerpunkt Sicherheitspolitik außerhalb von Hochschulen oder Instituten aufgetreten ist.

Alle Beiträge ansehen von Team GlobDef →