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VA Extends Gulf War Presumptive Period, Public Comments Welcome

Saturday, December 31st, 2011
Source: http://www.veteransnewsnow.com/2011/12/31/va-extends-gulf-war-presumptive-period-public-comments-welcome

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) in late December published an interim final rule, effective today Dec.
29, extending by five more years the presumptive period for Gulf War veterans’ service-connected disability claims
related to undiagnosed illnesses and medically unexplained chronic multi-symptom illnesses.

By Anthony Hardie

“Not all the wounds of war are fully understood,” said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki. “When there is
uncertainty about the connection between a medical problem and military service, Veterans are entitled to the benefit
of the doubt.”


Several “examples” of qualifying disabling conditions are more commonly known as Gulf War Illness or Gulf War
Syndrome, along with Fibromyalgia (FM), Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS/ME), Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), and
Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders (FGIDs).

Veterans with service in the Persian Gulf theater of operation between August 1990 and the present who have medical
evidence of current and disabling multiple symptoms attributed to these disorders, or not attributable to another
known disorder, may qualify for “presumptive” service-connected disability compensation and related benefits under
the law.

Earlier this year, VA announced it was proposing rules to extend the presumptive date “through 2018.” However, the
final published rule only extends the presumptive period through 2016, a full two years less than VA’s earlier
announcement. That announcement remains on VA’s website.

Public comments on the VA’s five-year extension of this presumptive period can be made through February 27, 2012.
Written comments on the rule, including concerns as to why the presumptive period was not extended through 2018 as
previously announced, can be submitted:

¦ONLINE: http://www.regulations.gov/#!documentDetail;D=VA_FRDOC_0001-1979
¦BY MAIL: Director, Regulations Management (02REG), Department of Veterans Affairs, 810 Vermont Ave., NW, Room 1068,
Washington, DC 20420
¦BY HAND-DELIVERY: Department of Veterans Affairs, 810 Vermont Ave., NW, Washington, DC [Letter/Envelope Addressed
to: Director, Regulations Management (02REG)]
¦BY FAX: (202) 273-9026
The VA press release is below, followed by the full Federal Register publication of the rule.

Anthony Hardie
Madison, Wis.
SOURCE: http://www.va.gov/opa/pressrel/pressrelease.cfm?id=2239 


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Rules Liberalized for Veterans with Undiagnosed Illnesses

December 29, 2011
Source: http://www.va.gov/opa/pressrel/pressrelease.cfm?id=2239

Application Window Extended for Five Years

WASHINGTON – Veterans of the Persian Gulf War with undiagnosed illnesses have an additional five years to qualify for
benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs.

“Not all the wounds of war are fully understood,” said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki. “When there is
uncertainty about the connection between a medical problem and military service, Veterans are entitled to the benefit
of the doubt.”

A recent change in VA regulations affects Veterans of the conflict in Southwest Asia. Many have attributed a range
of undiagnosed or poorly understood medical problems to their military services. Chemical weapons, environmental
hazards and vaccinations are among the possible causes.

At issue is the eligibility of Veterans to claim VA disability compensation based upon those undiagnosed illnesses,
and the ability of survivors to qualify for VA’s Dependency and Indemnity Compensation.

Under long-standing VA rules, any undiagnosed illnesses used to establish eligibility for VA benefits must become
apparent by Dec. 31, 2011. The new change pushes the date back to Dec. 31, 2016.

Veterans or survivors who believe they qualify for these benefits should contact VA at 1-800-827-1000.

Further information about undiagnosed illnesses is available online at www.publichealth.va.gov/exposures/gulfwar  and
www.publichealth.va.gov/exposures/oefoif/index.asp