Health Benefits for Nine New Diseases

by Robert Stretch on October 21, 2010

A new regulation announced by the Department of Veterans Affairs makes it easier for Gulf War veterans to get VA health care and disability compensation. The ruling covers nine infectious diseases—often associated with service in Southwest Asia, Iraq and Afghanistan—as causing service-connected ailments.

The service connection to the nine diseases is retroactive to Aug. 2, 1990 (the start of the Gulf War), through the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Here’s a list of the nine diseases:

1. Brucellosis

2. Campylobacter jejuni

3. Coxiella Burnetii (Q fever)

4. Malaria

5. Mycobacterium tuberculosis

6. Nontyphoid Salmonella

7. Shigella

8. Visceral leishmaniasis

9. West Nile virus

To get VA health care and/or disability compensation, a veteran simply needs to show the VA their service in Southwest Asia (including Iraq) or Afghanistan, that he or she had one of the nine diseases after service and that he or she has a disability as a result of that disease. Seven of the nine diseases must have presented itself within one year of discharge. Mycobacterium tuberculosis and visceral leishmaniasis may appear any time after discharge.
Establishing a connection between military service in Southwest Asia or Afghanistan and a specific disease requires a veteran to present medical evidence of non-presumptive conditions.

“This is part of historic changes in how VA considers Gulf War Veterans’ illnesses,” said Erik K. Shinseki, Secretary of Veterans Affairs, in a press release. “By setting up scientifically based presumptions of service connection, we give these deserving Veterans a simple way to obtain the medical and compensation benefits they earned in service to our country.”

The National Academy of Sciences Institute of Medicine published a 2006 report, “Gulf War and Health Volume 5: Infectious Diseases,” which prompted the VA’s decision to add these disease as presumptions.

Photo thanks to JonPerson under creative common license on Flickr.

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