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Michigan Elder Law Today

Monday, November 28, 2016

VA Extends Deadline for Gulf War Beneficiaries

The Gulf War, which began in the early 1990’s, originally involved 34 nations and took place in the Middle East – and relied on service from nearly 700,000 U.S. troops. While engaged in combat, these troops were exposed to a wide range of situations giving rise to severe, lifelong injuries. While some troops were injured by exposure to toxins, others sustained combat-related injuries from explosives, bullets and other hazards.

In 1994, the VA created an automatic presumption that Gulf War veterans were at an increased risk for developing certain conditions – primarily those related to exposure to chemical warfare and toxins. This presumption created a “fast track” for veterans to receive the disability benefits they would need to sustain daily living. When set, however, the presumption was expected to expire at the end of 2016, which is just weeks away.

Fortunately, the VA has opted to extend this deadline to December 31, 2021, recognizing that not all diseases and injuries caused by chemical exposure have necessarily been uncovered and diagnosed. Further, with conflicts in the Middle East ongoing, the VA has decided that the arbitrary 2016 deadline does not serve the physical and mental health  needs of the troops, and additional time is necessary to ensure all soldiers receive the support they need.

In a statement by the VA, “[c]urrently, military operations in the Southwest Asia theater continue….No end date for the Gulf War has been established by Congress or the President. If extension of the current presumptive period is not implemented, servicemembers whose conditions manifest after Dec. 31, 2016 would be substantially disadvantaged.”

Gulf War illness is a well-documented and heavily-researched condition affecting many servicemembers having deployed to the area. The VA, citing to a study conducted by the National Academies of Science, Medicine and Engineering, recognizes that Gulf War illness can include an “increased risk for chronic fatigue syndrome, functional gastrointestinal conditions and mental health disorders, as well as a myriad of symptoms including headaches, joint pain, insomnia and respiratory issues.”

For help obtaining VA benefits, call today!

If you need assistance in securing your VA disability benefits, please contact Andrew Byers, Attorney at Law today: 248-301-1511.


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