“All over the country, it’s the same thing being reported. These people walk into a VA hospital or clinic and either the physicians don’t know about Gulf War illness or they pretend they don’t know and the Veteran ends up in the psych ward.”
~ Capt. David Winnett (USMC – Ret)
Many Veterans have filed for Service Connected Disability (SCD) compensation from the VA due to Gulf War illness. Most of them already know the gap that exists between singing up in the Gulf War Registry and getting the VA to accept a relationship between Middle East service and certain disabling conditions. This huge gap is from lack of compassion & knowledge on the part of the VA and on the part of lawmakers. Neither the VA nor other Veterans support providers are doing enough, and the situation is getting worse for three generations of Veterans.
As if to highlight this support gap, the VA and the rest of the federal government recently failed to note the 25th anniversary of the end of the Gulf War. Despite the VA’s poor memory, many American’s still recall the Gulf War with clarity.
Two and a half decades ago, Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait and set America and the world on a path that has defined our military service and Veteran care since. One terrible legacy of having served in the Persian Gulf is the often undisclosed and hard to prove exposure and injuries due to a growing list of environmental and chemical hazards.
Including, but not limited to…
Gulf War Illness (GWI)
These hazards are believed to be associated with what is commonly called Gulf War Illness, or Gulf War Syndrome. Gulf War illness is characterized by fatigue, skin rashes, joint pain, forgetfulness, and other mental and physical ailments. So, if you are a Gulf War Era Veteran, you need to consider the following.
If there are no better explanations of what is causing these ailments in you, you have a strong claim for Service Connected Disability compensation.
Additionally, if these same conditions are keeping you from being able to work, you likely have a strong claim for Social Security benefits as well.
Frustratingly, the VA continues to spend real money ($400 million+) researching the potential causes for each possible condition. This expenditure is a lot of money to spend chasing tails while Veterans continue to run into barriers to treatment and support. Veterans are suffering and dying while the VA seeks to find out the cause. At this point, the VA should focus on the support and the Federal Government should concentrate on the cause!
What Can we We Do?
The only way to assert Veterans rights to treatment and compensation for loss of function is to persist in clearing the path for them. The VA needs to help Gulf War Veterans in seeking better treatments. They need to offer the correct diagnosis. And they need to begin awarding reasonable GWI claims at the same rate they grant other claims.
In the meantime, Veterans should seek support from experienced and knowledgeable advocates. Advocates that can step in to fill the support gap that defines this issue.
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