The official blog of American Veteran Magazine, the national quarterly publication of AMVETS.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

VA Announces New Presumptions for Gulf War/Afghan Service

Late last week, VA announced it will establish new presumptive service-connected conditions for veterans who served in the Persian Gulf and in Afghanistan, making it easier for veterans to receive care and compensation.

According to a VA statement, the new presumptions will include long-term health effects associated with nine conditions: Brucellosis, Campylobacter jejuni, Coxiella burnetti (Q fever), malaria, Mycobacterium tuberculosis, Nontyphoid Salmonella, Shigella, Visceral leishmaniasis, and the West Nile virus.

VA decided to expand the presumptions based on recommendations from the VA Gulf War Veterans Illness Task Force based on a 2006 study from the National Academy of Sciences outlining the long-term health effects of diseases found to disproportionately affect Gulf War veterans.

Similar to VA's recent expansion of Agent Orange presumptions for Vietnam-era veterans, a veteran seeking care and compensation for the new conditions must only have a diagnosis for a listed disease and proof of service in Southwest Asia or Afghanistan. Presumptions eliminate the burden of proof for veterans who usually must compile evidence indicating that a condition is service-connected.

“We recognize the frustrations that many Gulf War and Afghanistan veterans and their families experience on a daily basis as they look for answers to health questions, and seek benefits from VA,” said VA Secretary Eric Shinseki in an official statement on the new presumptions.

VA is expected to publish its final regulation on the new presumptions once the 60-day comment period has ended. Check back with American Veteran Online for updates on the new presumptions, as implementation of the new policy draws closer.

(Photo: Soldiers from the 5162nd Air Defense Artillery Regiment pose for a photo with their Stinger portable missile during Operation Desert Shield. U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Corkran, released.)

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