The 2010 Census offers unique insight to U.S. Veterans. Over 835,000 Americans are Veterans who served during both Gulf War eras. Almost 50,000 more American Veterans served in Vietnam era and both Gulf War eras. This means the United States has almost 1 million Veterans potentially suffering from serious service-connected injuries.
If you are a Gulf War-era Veteran, how can you recognize a service-connected medical condition? Among the most common types of service-connected health problems now suffered by Gulf War-era Veterans are:
- Chemical exposure. Serious heart, lung, and nervous-system conditions are associated with chemical exposure during Gulf War-era operations.
- Infectious diseases. Veterans suffer from a wide range of debilitating infections not experienced by civilians. Such diseases include brucellosis; campylobacter jejuni; coxiella burnetii; and leishmaniasis.
- Chronic muscle pain (musculoskeletal injuries and pain). Includes lingering pain in the back, neck, knees, and shoulders.
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other mental trauma. Can include sleep apnea, depression, and other symptoms.
- Noise and vibration exposure. Includes hearing loss and hearing impairment as well as irreversible lower back pain (from vibration exposure), numbness, and pain in the hands and fingers.
- Traumatic Brain Injury. Headaches, memory loss, language disabilities, learning disabilities, PTSD, seizures are among the most common results of service-connected concussions and other traumatic injuries to the brain.
- Urologic Injuries. This covers a wide range of resulting injuries with devastating health results for both men and women Veterans.
The challenge for Veterans, as reported previously by the Law Firm of Robert B. Goss, P.C., is that VA is likely to dismiss your service-connected disability as the result of advancing years, poor lifestyle habits, or your civilian job. Many Gulf War-era Veterans are now in their late-40s to late-50s. This is precisely the time in life when VA will confound your service-connected disability with the wear-and-tear of normal living. Don’t let them do it to you!
For example, certain types of heart damage such as arrhythmia (abnormal hearth rhythm) can be the direct result of exposure to toxic nerve agents. As we know, exposure to toxic chemicals – such as from burn pits – and other noxious environmental agents were standard in Gulf War theatres. But, for those Veterans now approaching middle-age, VA is quick to dismiss your service-connected heart damage as the result of your smoking, or your weight, or your lack of exercise: everything except the true root cause, namely, your military service to the United States of America.
You need to pursue your benefits claims now. Here’s why.
- Your benefits don’t start until you file. Even if you have suffered in silence for years, those years don’t count. You will not receive any benefits for the time before you actually file for benefits.
- Your health isn’t going to get better. Obtaining records, going to doctor’s appointments, providing evidence for VA – none of this is going to get easier over time. Starting now is like investing now: you have more time on your side to go through VA’s process, including appealing their denials and refusals.
- You are in the best position now to demonstrate service–connection. As time marches on, it may be more difficult to differentiate between joint problems caused by service and joint problems caused by the fall from a horse during a vacation for your 20th wedding anniversary. If you are having any health issues that you suspect result from your military service, there’s no time like now to get those investigated.
Why having an attorney can give you an advantage:
- You don’t want to face VA’s bureaucracy without an advocate. As reported by the Law Firm of Robert B. Goss, P.C., VA has plenty of ways to deny you your benefits. They want you to submit information without having any advice, so your omissions or lack of “magic words” can be used against you to deny you benefits. They can and will attack your credibility. They can and will mislead you with the Notice of Disagreement (NOD) form, VA Form 21-0958. They can and will try to wait you out. And they are counting on you to not have a representative. That’s why VA fought so long and so hard to prevent Veterans from having representatives. Because VA wants you to go it alone.
- A VA-accredited Attorney helps you beyond VA. VA is not there to pick up the pieces for you and your family. VA will not assist you with ensuring you have important legal documents such as health directives. They won’t help you with consumer problems. And they definitely won’t offer health-law guidance to identify issues such as informed consent. You need someone who knows the law and who is looking out for you.
Veterans – are you receiving all the benefits to which your service entitles you? If you have doubts, there’s good news. By taking prompt, early action, you are in the best position to maintain or improve your benefits situation. DON’T WAIT. Contact the Law Office of Robert B. Goss, P.C. today for your FREE consultation.