VA Adds 5 Presumptive Illnesses to Soldier’s Benefits
Our veterans are treasured members of society. After serving our country selflessly, they are entitled to certain benefits. As Veterans Affairs Department oversees these benefits, our veterans are offered medical, dental and discount programs to keep them healthy. Now the VA is expanding their benefits to include 5 illnesses that will be presumed service-connected and covered under their benefits.
Illnesses under Consideration
The VA uses the best sciences available to determine veterans’ disability claims. This has resulted in a proposal to include 5 brain illnesses that are connected with traumatic brain injury as a result of their service. From 2000 to 2012, more than 250,000 service members suffered a traumatic brain injury. Now the VA is proposing 5 illnesses linked to TBI and are presuming they are related to their time in service. These illnesses include:
- Unprovoked Seizures
- Symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease
- Certain types of dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease
- Hormone deficiencies caused by changes of the hypothalamus and pituitary glands
These changes are being made based on a 2008 report released by the Institute of Medicine reporting the sufficient evidence of the link between the illnesses and moderate and severe TBI. The VA will determine service-connection based on the severity of the TBI and the illness diagnosed.
The Next Step
Once the proposal is released, the public will have 60 days to comment on the proposal before it is finalized. For many veterans, this is good news, as it takes an evidentiary step out of the processing claims where TBI and the secondary effects are apparent in veterans. In the same report showing the 250,000 TBI cases among soldiers, 42,000 suffered moderate TBI, 2,527 suffered from severe TBI, and 3,949 had penetrating wounds to the head. These are most often caused by weapons or a blow to the head resulting in skull fragments lodging in the brain.
The new proposal will create an influx of claims and will burden the already backlogged VA. Currently there are over 900,000 claims pending and if passed, the new process will increase that number. Even with the increase in claims, the move is still highly welcomed and those veterans suffering from secondary effects of TBI will finally be able to get the medical attention they need.
This change will add to the multitude of benefits our veterans currently receive. The VA benefit packages can include educational advantages, scholarships, compensations and pensions, home loans, discounts on fees and taxes, dental and healthcare, and even assistance in starting a business. We have all seen veteran discounts on movie tickets and even dining, but to offer treatment for service-connected injuries is a step forward in caring for the soldiers who fought for our freedom.
For those veterans and families awaiting treatment for the secondary effects of TBI, the wait will soon be over. The proposal is expected to pass without argument and the VA is already preparing for the influx of claims that is guaranteed to follow. Soon our veterans will receive the care they so richly deserve.