Around 700,000 servicemembers participated in military action to expel Saddam Hussein from Kuwait from 1990 through 1991. Upon returning from the Middle East, many veterans experienced fatigue, headaches, joint pain, indigestion, irritable bowel syndrome or IBS, insomnia, respiratory problems, and many other health issues, some of which cannot be medically explained.
Following the military’s return to the region with the 2003 invasion of Iraq, servicemembers once again began suffering from these symptoms either during or after their return from the Persian Gulf. Collectively, these symptoms are known as Gulf War Syndrome. Many veterans who served during the Gulf War and in Operation Iraqi Freedom continue to experience these problems to this day. While some veterans may only suffer from one condition, such as IBS or unexplained fatigue, other veterans suffer from multiple symptoms, known as a medically unexplained chronic multisymptom illness, or MUCMI in VA’s language.
The VA has a benefits program that provides assistance to those veterans who served in the Middle East from 1990 to the present. An experienced attorney could help you determine your eligibility for this program and pursue a Gulf War Syndrome claim based on your exposure to toxic chemicals during service.
Following the Gulf War, medics and doctors noticed a disturbing trend in veterans who served on active duty in the region. Specifically, they reported unexplainable illnesses, the symptoms of which included:
Eventually, doctors linked military service in the Middle East to these conditions. Around 250,000 diagnosed cases of Gulf War Syndrome affect United States military veterans. While the exact causes of these symptoms are unclear, prominent theories include exposure to nerve agents, the ingestion of pesticides, exposure to burn pits, and contact with depleted uranium munitions. The presence of any of these symptoms on a chronic basis may qualify a veteran for a Gulf War Syndrome claim.
The VA recognizes the health risks associated with active duty in the Middle East. As such, veterans who are experiencing symptoms connected to their service there could claim a variety of benefits.
Any veteran can request a free Gulf War Registry Health Exam, which is intended to discover symptoms of Gulf War Syndrome but is not required to make a claim for any disability benefits. You may also participate in the Airborne Hazards and Open Burn Pit Registry, which can help catalog your symptoms and accumulate data about the potential causes of Gulf War Syndrome.
Additionally, Middle East veterans who experience unexplained symptoms for more than six months are eligible for a presumption of disability and compensation benefits. To qualify for this program, you must be able to prove that their illness appeared either during active duty in the Southwest Asia theatre of military operations, or after active duty service by December 31, 2021, and that their condition is more than ten percent disabling. Note that the 2021 date for the onset of symptoms is only tentative and is continually changing.
VA would issue a disability rating after receiving an application that includes medical evidence as well as evidence, including lay evidence about the onset of symptoms and their continuation. A VA-accredited lawyer can help veterans gather information needed to help prove their claim or file an appeal.
Many veterans still suffer from combat wounds or mental health concerns after serving their country, and they can typically point to a specific instance that caused their conditions. However, if you suffer from Gulf War Syndrome, you may not be able to identify how you got injured.
Fortunately, if you suffer from a variety of respiratory, gastrointestinal, or mental health problems for which there is no clear explanation, you may be eligible for VA disability compensation. A VetLaw attorney could help you pursue your entitlement to VA compensation benefits based on your Gulf War Syndrome claim. Call us today for more information and to schedule your free case review.