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Gulf War Syndrome

  • June 11, 2018

What is Gulf War Syndrome?

Veterans who served in the Southwest Asia theatre of military operations may be entitled to disability compensation for certain undiagnosed illnesses, chronic disability, or presumptive illnesses. Gulf War Syndrome is a catchall term to classify a myriad of unexplained illnesses that many Gulf War veterans suffer from which seem to have no relation to each other; for example, chronic fatigue syndrome or chronic multi-symptom illness. The causes of Gulf War syndrome are not well-known, but there is speculation that toxic exposure or medical vaccinations may be a cause.

Eligibility for Gulf War Syndrome Compensation

To qualify for VA benefits for Gulf War Syndrome, a Gulf War veteran must have served in the qualifying region on the Southwest Asia theatre of military operations. The veteran must suffer from a qualifying undiagnosed illness or diagnosable chronic disability patterns , such as diagnosable functional gastrointestinal disorders, chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia, that appeared either during a qualifying period of active service or prior to December 31, 2021. Other qualifying conditions are: (1) there must be no other cause for the disability or illness than service in the Southwest Asia theatre of Military Operations; (2) the disability must have lasted for at least 6 months; amd (3) if the disability or illness did not appear during active duty then it must have appeared proper to December 31, 2021 to a degree of ten (10) percent or more. See 38 U.S.C. § 1117.

Certain presumptive diseases are assumed to have been incurred in or aggravated by service, even if they did not occur during service, if they became manifest to a degree of 10% or more within 1 year of the of the date of separation from a qualifying period of active service. These diseases include:

  • Burcellosis;
  • Campylobacter jejuni;
  • Coxiella burnetii (Q fever);
  • Malaria* (if not 10 percent or more within one year of separation, may be 10 percent or more at a time when standard or accepted treatises indicate that the incubation period commenced during qualifying period of service);
  • Mycobacterium tuberculosis (no time limit);
  • Nontyphoid Salmonella;
  • Shigella;
  • Visceral leishmaniasis* (no time limit); and
  • West Nile Virus.

Evidence of Gulf War Syndrome Needed for Compensation

There must be evidence that the veteran served in the Southwest Asia theater of military operations, as defined by regulation or served in Afghanistan on or after September 19, 2001, for benefits associated with certain presumptive diseases.

There must be medical evidence of treatment of the claimed disability or illness. If there is no medical evidence of previous treatment for a disability pattern and the only significant evidence is a lay statement describing the disability pattern, a VA examination may be requested. Evidence for undiagnosed illness claims may be nonmedical indications that can be independently observed or verified such as lost time from work, changes in appearance, changes in physical abilities, and changes in mental or emotional attitudes.

If you believe the VA has wrongfully denied service connected disability benefits, please contact us today at 800-555-2989, or complete a case evaluation form here to receive a free evaluation.