Gulf War Syndrome / Gulf War Veterans’ Illnesses
In response to veterans suffering from undiagnosed medical conditions, Congress enacted 38 U.S.C. § 1117, which eliminated the nexus requirement for some “qualifying chronic disabilities.” Thus, if a veteran of the Persian Gulf era suffers from a qualifying chronic disability which manifests to a degree of 10 percent or more since return from active duty in Southwest Asia, then service connection is presumed.
Requirements for Presumptive Service Connection
- You qualify as a veteran of the Gulf War period,
- You have a qualifying chronic disability, and
- Your disability can be rated at 10 percent or more.
Persian Gulf War Veteran
The Gulf War period is defined as beginning on August 2, 1990, and continuing as of today, so Gulf War veterans include not only veterans who served during the first Gulf War in Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm, but also any veteran who has served in the Southwest Asia theatre of operations since then. Southwest Asia includes:
- Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, or Afghanistan,
- The neutral zone between Iraq and Saudi Arabia, or
- The Gulf of Aden, the Gulf of Oman, the Persian Gulf, the Arabian Sea, or the Red Sea.
Qualifying Chronic Disability
A qualifying chronic disability is defined as:
- an undiagnosed illness,
- a medically unexplained chronic multi-symptom illness, or
- any diagnosed illness VA determines warrants a presumption of service connection.
Symptoms of an undiagnosed illness includes fatigue, unexplained rashes or other dermatological disorders, headaches, muscle pain, joint pain, neurological and psychological issues, respiratory disorders, sleep disturbances, gastrointestinal disorders, cardiovascular disorders, abnormal weight loss, and menstrual disorders. These symptoms must be chronic, meaning they must have existed for six months or more, or have exhibited intermittent episodes of improvement and worsening over a six-month period.
Chronic multisymptom illnesses include chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, irritable bowel syndrome or other functional gastrointestinal disorders, or any other medically unexplained chronic illness for which VA will make a case by case determination.
Finally, the VA presumes service connection for nine infectious diseases: brucellosis, campylobacter jejuni, coxiella burnetii (Q fever), malaria, mycobacterium tuberculosis, nontyphoid salmonella, shigella, visceral leishmaniasis, and West Nile virus. With the exception of visceral leishmaniasis and mycobacterium tuberculosis, an infectious disease must manifest to a degree of 10 percent or more within one year of service in Southwest Asia or Afghanistan.
How I Can Help
Gulf War Syndrome claims are complicated and confusing because the VA essentially requires a diagnosis of an undiagnosed illness. If a physician or the VA gives you a specific diagnosis, you will not be entitled to presumptive service connection and instead will have to prove service connection for that diagnosis.
I work on a contingency fee basis which means you pay no up-front fees for my representation. You only pay my fee if I successfully resolve your appeal. My fee is a reasonable percentage of your backpay award, and does not impact your future benefits.
In addition, I advance all costs of your appeal including the cost of obtaining independent medical examinations (when appropriate). You are only responsible for repayment of expenses upon successful resolution of your appeal, or if you terminate my representation before final conclusion of your appeal.
I handle every aspect of your case from initial intake to resolution, and as a disabled veteran myself, I understand what you are going through. I don’t use support staff, so you are always dealing with me and I pride myself on responding to my clients in a timely manner.