Monday, January 30, 2006

Secondary Claims Important to Veterans

By: MIKE SCHUSTER - For the North County Times

I have received several e-mails from readers and thank them for their input. Tom McManus called to let me know that all Vietnam-era veterans from the early years of that conflict are now recognized by the VA as in-country Vietnam veterans from Feb. 28, 1961 through April 1975.

Let's discuss secondary claims for all veterans:

# Disability, which is proximately due to, or the result of a service-connected disease or injury. For example, a veteran has a right knee service-connected injury. For years he favors his good knee, but it, too, goes bad. The veteran may file a claim for his left knee condition secondary to his service connected right knee. The vet will need a doctor's opinion documenting that condition.

# A psychological condition often causes hypertension and heart disease, which VA and National Academy of Sciences studies have linked to the years of stress from these conditions.

This can mean that a veteran who suffers PTSD, major depression or similar disabilities can make a claim for secondary hypertension/heart disease to his service connected psychological disorder with a doctor's opinion. Or his widow, if the veteran died of a heart condition, may file a claim after producing a doctor's opinion that his psychological condition contributed to his death.

# Agent Orange Diabetes II that can lead to neuropathy, kidney, heart and other secondary conditions, which the veteran should and could be rated for.

# Prescription drugs for a service-connected condition that causes other medical conditions would be claimable. Once I had a veteran on prescriptions for his combat stress, which caused his teeth to fall out, his dental condition was ruled as being service connected by the VA.

Let's review "presumptive" conditions. The VA recognizes that certain disabilities veterans may develop years after service may be directly related to military exposure to certain conditions. Of course, all of these claims need a current medical diagnosis, such as:

# Asbestosis ---- A lung disease developed many years later from the veterans exposure to asbestosis during the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s, when asbestos was used as insulation on all U.S. Navy ships and numerous military barracks. If you have a lung disease, please talk to your doctor if it may be related. X-rays will show asbestosis.

# Other "presumptive" conditions exist for veterans exposed to atomic radiation and Agent Orange, and have been diagnosed with Gulf War Syndrome and more. For a review of those conditions, go to the VA Web site: and review the 38 Code of Federal Regulations, Sections 3.309 to 3.317. Get a doctor's opinion a diagnosis, your DD-214, and go see your veteran advocate to file that claim ---- if not for you, for your wife and children. A small investment in the beginning will pay off for the rest of the veteran's life.

Remember, the VA hires highly educated, many legally schooled, rating specialists, so give these VA employees the medical and legal opinions they seek. These VA rating specialists are mostly pro-veteran, but they too, have laws and rules set by Congress that they must adhere to. The best way to work the system is to provide them with the documentation they need to help you, the veteran.

1 comment:

chris said...

Thank you Soldier

Have you stopped to thank a veteran today?
For the price of freedom they had to pay?
Did you gaze into those distant eyes?
Did you see the ghosts he can't deny?
Did you think a soldier's heart was made of steel?
Because he was trained to kill, he couldn't feel?
Did you see the guilt written on his face,
For the loss of life he can't replace?
Did you know he mourns the lives he couldn't save,
And walks with comrades in their grave?
Did you remember the boy with innocence lost?
Do you really know war's ultimate cost?
Have you felt the blast of artillery fire?
Do you have the courage it would require?
Have you stood in trenches consumed with fear?
Felt the enemies breath so very near?
Have you walked with God on a battleground?
Seen your brothers dead or dying all around?
Have you stopped to thank a vet today,
Or did you just turn and walk away?
From the pain he'll carry for the rest of his life,
Did you consider his family, his children, his wife?
That watch him suffer in silence each and every day,
As he's haunted by memories that don't go away?
Did you care that the soldier is still pulling guard?
That his heart, mind, and soul will forever be scarred?
Do you know how he suffers from ptsd?
Or that our precious freedom is never free?
Do you care that he still hears the blood curdling screams?
Or that he returns to the war each night in his dreams?
Have you felt the sorrow of a combat vet?
Or would you rather just forget?
That war has pierced his hardened heart,
And torn this soldier all apart?
Would you rather our heroes just fade away?
Or will you stop to thank a vet today?

By Chris Woolnough