Effective Aug 15, new Veterans’ Affairs regulations will allow disability coverage for vets with “unexplained chronic multi-system illnesses” without requiring proof that there’s a connection between the illness and military service. That is, the connection is “presumed.”
Specifically, this applies to vets whose active military duty occurred in and whose symptoms first appeared in the Southwest Asia Theater of military operations* between Aug 2, 1990 (start of first Gulf War) and the present.
The illnesses, which must have lasted at least 6 months (and be at least 10% disabling by Dec 31, 2011), include chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS), fibromyalgia, “functional gastrointestinal disorders” such as irritable bowel syndrome, and other unexplained/undiagnosed illnesses with various symptoms such as fatigue, neurological disorders, and sleep problems, etc.
* The Southwest Asia Theater includes “Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, The neutral zone between Iraq and Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar, The United Arab Emirates, Oman, Gulf of Aden, Gulf of Oman, waters of the Persian Gulf, the Arabian Sea and the Red Sea and the airspace above these locations.”
Family Caregiver Stipends/Training
Additionally, family caregivers of veterans seriously injured in the line of duty on or after September 11, 2001 should look into the VA’s caregiver training & stipend program, intended to help these vets “remain at home surrounded by family and friends.” For information and an application go to www.caregiver.va.gov. or call the national Caregiver Support Line at 1-855-260-3274
Sources: Daily Nonpareil (Council Bluffs, Iowa) news online, Jul 20, 2011; Department of Veterans Affairs news release, Jul 5, 2011