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Veterans Benefits


Chronology of VBA Responses to the Gulf War

Bradley Flohr

Assistant Director for Policy, Compensation and Pension Service

September 25, 2008

Veterans Benefits Administration January 2, 2008


Briefing Objectives

Explain VA statutes and regulations for benefits based on service in the Gulf War
Explain VBA’s actions in response to Congress and Gulf War veterans
Veterans Benefits Administration January 2, 2008


Statutes and Regulations

PL 103-446 – VBIA of 1994
Authorized compensation for undiagnosed illnesses
38 CFR 3.317 – February 1995
Implemented the statute, including a 2-year presumptive period following GW service
Veterans Benefits Administration January 2, 2008


Chronology of Actions

August 1990 - Modifier added to control mechanism for claims from GW vets based on environmental hazards endemic to GW theater
July 1991 – VBA published instructions to field stations for reporting claims based on exposure to environmental hazards
To identify patterns of claims sharing common environmental factor
December 1992 – claims centralized to the Louisville RO
Veterans Benefits Administration January 2, 2008


Chronology (cont.)

December 1993 – 83 claims had been granted based on environmental hazards out of 1676 decided. Biggest reason for denial was a large number of claims based on exposure only
October 1994 – claims redistributed to 3 additional ROs – Phoenix, Nashville and Philadelphia
November 1994 – PL 103-446
February 1995 – GW claims based on undiagnosed illnesses centralized to the four RO processing sites – a readjudication of previously denied claims was directed for possible entitlement under PL 103-446
Veterans Benefits Administration January 2, 2008


Chronology (cont.)

1995-1996 – Five quality reviews of rating decisions conducted by C&P Service
February 1995 – Instructions to ROs for implementing PL 103-446 included a requirement to readjudicate all prior denied claims
March to May 1996 – separate reviews of cases being tracked were conducted
July 1996 through 1997 – a review of approximately 10,000 cases conducted
March 1997 – President approved a request by Secretary Brown to extend eligibility period for undiagnosed illnesses from 2 years post service to December 31, 2001.
Veterans Benefits Administration January 2, 2008


Chronology (cont.)

April 1997 - Section 3.317 amended to extend presumptive date to December 31, 2001
Readjudication project expanded to include denials on the basis of net meeting the prior 2-year presumptive period; additional 4,000 cases added to readjudication list
GW claims redistributed to all ROs – concerns about training for employees were raised
May 1997 – 2-hour satellite broadcast conducted for all ROs regarding GW issues
Veterans Benefits Administration January 2, 2008


Chronology (cont.)

June 1997 – in depth training session for representatives of all offices; subsequent workshops conducted for all offices
June 1997 – Rapid Response Team formed and weekly GW conference calls initiated with ROs
July 1997 – each RO required to submit monthly report of a review of GW ratings to C&P Service
October 1997 – Study of national sample of GW cases conducted
February 1998 – guidelines for medical examinations of GW veterans transmitted to ROs and VAMCs
February 1998 – VA contracted with NAS for reviews of exposure to environmental hazards and the subsequent development of disease.
Veterans Benefits Administration January 2, 2008


April 1998 – Study of 101 Gulf War cases completed – 23% grant rate for undiagnosed illnesses
June 1998 – conference calls reduced to monthly until April 1999, when discontinued
End of 1998 – readjudication completed
September 2001 – VBA conducted a review of 800 denied claims based on undiagnosed illnesses
December 2001 – The Secretary made a decision to service connect vets of the GW who develop ALS
PL 107-103 – Veterans Education and Benefits Expansion Act of 2001 signed into law
Veterans Benefits Administration January 2, 2008


Chronology (cont.)

March 2003 – Based on PL 107-103, VA added chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, and irritable bowel syndrome as presumptive diseases based on GW service.
October 2006 – GW and Health, Volume 5 (infectious diseases) released
January 2008 – Secretary informed Congress of intent to create 9 new presumptions (brucellosis, campylobacter jejuni, Q fever, malaria, mycobacterium tuberculosis, nontyphoid salmonella, shigella, visceral leishmaniasis, West Nile fever).


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