NGWRC is funded only by donations
NGWRC is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization, and your donations are tax deductible. Our paperwork is on file with the state of Kansas and if you need a copy you can get it from the Secretary of States' office. The NGWRC reserves the right to refuse donations from any groups or persons whos' views does not support ours.
Work with a good VSO, or Agent when doing your claim.
You should only have an accredited VSO Rep working on your case, and you can search the database of the VA Office of the General Counsel (OGC) to determine if a VSO Rep is currently accredited or not at http://www.va.gov/ogc/apps/accreditation/index.asp . Make sure they are, there are some scammers out there.
To file a claim for disability compensation, use Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA) form 21-526EZ.
You may download this form at: http://www.vba.va.gov/pubs/forms/VBA-21-526EZ-ARE.pdf .
To make a statement in support of claim, or to get a statement from your friend, comrade, co-worker, or family member, VA Form 21-4138: http://www.va.gov/vaforms/form_detail.asp?FormNo=21-4138 .
To download or print Disability Benefits Questionnaires (DBQs) for your private doctor, go to http://www.benefits.va.gov/COMPENSATION/dbq_disabilityexams.asp . Only doctors may fill out a DBQ. Please use form 21-4138 for all other statements in support of your claim.
There are no DBQs for the following medical examinations: Initial Examination for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, Hearing Loss and Tinnitus, Residuals of Traumatic Brain Injury, Cold Injury Residuals, Prisoner of War Examination Protocol, Gulf War Medical Examination.
To file a Notice of Disagreement you must use this form.
Notice of Disagreement (Fillable) http://www.vba.va.gov/pubs/forms/VBA-21-0958-ARE.pdf
You can request a copy of your service medical records from the National Personnel Record Center (NPRC) in St. Louis, MO, using a Standard Form 180, Request Pertaining to Military Records. This form is available from your representative or any VA office. You can also apply for a copy of your service records online http://www.archives.gov/veterans/military-service-records/ .
The NPRC Fire of July 1973 destroyed many Army and Air Force records of personnel discharged between 1912 and 1964. If you were discharged after Jan 1, 1964, or if you served in the Navy or Marines, your records were not burned, and you should be able to obtain a copy. Source: http://www.archives.gov/st-louis/military-personnel/fire-1973.html.
U.S.C Title 38 § 1117, §1118 38 CFR § 3.317
Federal Register / Vol. 60, No. 23 / 2-3-1995
Federal Register / Vol. 68, No. 111 / 6-10-2003
Gutierrez v. Principi (Vet. App. 2004)
In Gutierrez, the veteran claimed service connected compensation for undiagnosed illnesses incurred during the Persian Gulf War. The Court found that the veteran was not required to provide evidence linking his current conditions to events during service and the BVA erred by imposing such a nexus requirement.
Impact on VBA:
Good training tool.
Summary of the facts and Court's reasons:
In Gutierrez, the veteran claimed service connected compensation for undiagnosed illnesses incurred during the Persian Gulf War. The veteran filed a claim for "Gulf War Syndrome" as manifested by various symptoms including joint and muscle pain, dizziness, fatigue, memory loss and a loss of concentration and decreased vision. Mr. Gutierrez also submitted statements from his wife, his father, and a friend, which essentially noted that the veteran had a decline in his general health since discharge from service. The Board of Veterans Appeals (BVA) denied the claim finding that the only evidence linking the veteran's "current alleged disabilities to his service or Gulf War Syndrome consist of the veteran's own evidentiary assertions". The BVA found that such evidence was of limited probative weight. The BVA noted that although "the veteran is competent to describe manifestations perceivable to a lay party, he is not competent to diagnose himself with disabilities and then associate those disabilities with his active service or with any form of Persian Gulf Syndrome".
In order to establish service connection under 38 U.S.C. § 1117 and 38 C.F.R. § 3.317, a claimant must present evidence that he or she is a Persian Gulf veteran who (1) exhibits objective indications; (2) of a chronic disability such as those listed in paragraph (b) of 38 C.F.R. § 3.317; (3) which became manifest either during active military, naval, or air service in the Southwest Asia theater of operations during the Persian Gulf War, or to a degree of 10% or more not later than December 31, 2006; and (4) such symptomatology by history, physical examination, and laboratory tests cannot be attributed to any known clinical diagnosis. 38 U.S.C. § 1117; 38 C.F.R. § 3.317(a).
The Court found that the veteran was not required to provide evidence linking his current conditions to events during service and the BVA erred by imposing such a nexus requirement. The requirement is that undiagnosed illnesses become manifest to a degree of 10% or more during the presumptive period which ends on December 31, 2006. The Court noted the reasons or bases the BVA gave for finding that the lay statements of the veteran, his wife, father and friend were "neither competent nor probative of the issues in question" were inadequate. The medical evidence of record shows that Mr. Gutierrez complained of joint and muscle pain, fatigue, dizziness, sleep problems and loss of concentration but no medical examiner ever provided a medical etiology for these illnesses. As the BVA correctly noted, the record on appeal does not contain evidence that the veteran's alleged symptoms were related to any current diagnosed disabilities or had a known etiology. However, his claimed symptoms by history, physical examination, and laboratory tests cannot be related to any known clinical diagnosis in order for compensation to be awarded under section 1117. As a result, the BVA erred by concluding that the failure of the laboratory tests and studies to diagnose an illness was evidence against Mr. Gutierrez's claim. The Court found that the BVA made clearly erroneous findings as to certain facts and has provided an inadequate statement of reasons or bases for its decision. The Court vacated the BVA decision and remanded the claim.
CAVC case number: No. 01-2105
Stankevich v. Nicholson (Vet. App. 2006)
Eisenet al., 2005
Kang 2001 JOEM Volume 42, Number 5, May 2001
Dursa 2016 JOEM Volume 58, Number 1, January 2016
While working a claim rater get help for the M21-1 Manual that is updated daily M21-1 (Live Manual)
Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) Claim
[CFR 38, §3.318]
What is ALS?
Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), or Lou Gehrig's disease, kills cells in the brain and spinal cord that control muscle movement, resulting in gradual wasting of the muscles. Fatal in most cases, the disease usually strikes people between ages 40 and 70. The cause of the disease is unknown. ALS does not affect the senses (sight, smell, taste, hearing, touch), bladder or bowel function, or a person's ability to think or reason.
Who may claim service-connection for ALS?
Under most circumstances, if you are a US military veteran diagnosed with ALS, it will be presumptively service-connected. All you need to do is file the claim. The claim will be expedited because ALS is a terminal illness.
Here is the exact language of CFR 38, §3.318(a):
Except as provided in paragraph (b) of this section, the development of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis manifested at any time after discharge or release from active military, naval, or air service is sufficient to establish service connection for that disease.
Head drop due to weak spinal and neck muscles
Muscle weakness that slowly gets worse
Commonly involves one part of the body first, such as the arm or hand
Eventually leads to difficulty lifting, climbing stairs, and walking
Speech problems, such as a slow or abnormal speech pattern
Voice changes, hoarseness
Additional symptoms that may be associated with this disease:
Ankle, feet, and leg swelling
The VA established a national ALS registry to identify veterans with the disease -- regardless of when they served -- and track their health status. Veterans with ALS who enroll will complete an initial telephone interview covering their health and military service and will be interviewed twice yearly thereafter. For more information about the VA's ALS Registry, based at the Durham VA Medical Center, call 1-877-DIAL-ALS (1-877-342-5257) or e-mail ALS@med.va.gov
More Information on ALS
The following organizations support research and in some cases can provide information and support for patients and their families.
ALS Association (ALSA)
27001 Agoura Road Suite 150
Calabasas Hills, CA 91301-5104
Tel: 818-880-9007 800-782-4747 Fax: 818-880-9006
Les Turner ALS Foundation
8142 North Lawndale Avenue
Skokie, IL 60076
Tel: 888-ALS-1107 847-679-3311 Fax: 847-679-9109
Muscular Dystrophy Association
3300 East Sunrise Drive
Tucson, AZ 85718-3208
Tel: 520-529-2000 800-572-1717 Fax: 520-529-5300
511 Avenue of the Americas Suite #341
New York, NY 10011
Tel: 212-969-0329 800-603-0270 Fax: 212-337-9915
For information on other neurological disorders or research programs funded by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, contact the Institute's:
Brain Resources and Information Network (BRAIN)
P.O. Box 5801
Bethesda, Maryland 20824
Cancer Claims & Depleted Uranium
There is no presumptive service connection to cancer for most veterans of post-Vietnam conflicts. If you have a cancer which you believe is related to your military service, but you do not meet the definition of an Agent Orange or Radiation-Exposed Veteran, then you will have the standard burden of proof applied to your claim. You must provide a medical opinion from a doctor stating it is 'at least as likely as not' that your current cancer is related to your claimed in-service exposure.
This may require extensive research to prove your exposure and to back up your doctor's claim of the relationship. Presenting strong evidence of the relationship to your doctor is, in fact, what can make the difference in whether or not that doctor will write the letter for you. Some doctors are not up-to-date on research showing the relationship between a particular exposure and a particular cancer.
Depleted Uranium & Cancer for SWAT veterans
Depleted Uranium (DU) is a mildly radioactive heavy metal that, like lead and mercury, is highly toxic when inhaled or ingested. Its long-term effects remain a subject of debate.
No cancers are presumptive for Iraq, Persian Gulf, or other recent (1990-current) conflict veterans on the basis of their foreign deployments, but the VA does grant service connection on a case-by-case basis. The VA realizes that cancers take decades to manifest - there is no '1 year limit' on symptoms for cancer.
DU is recognized as a possible cause or accelerator of cancer, but the evidence is not yet strong enough to make it presumptive. If a veteran can both make a case that he or she has high exposure to it, such as DU shrapnel fragments in his or her body, and get a doctor's 'as likely as not' statement in support of claim, the veteran may file with a reasonable chance of success.
Updated November, 2017 V3.0
Distribution and Disclaimer
Gulf War Illness (GWI) is a generic term for a variety of medical problems which will be discussed in detail. This guide is not a review of the protocols for medical treatment of GWI; that goal is all too elusive. The primary purpose of this guide is to assist the veteran -- who believes he or she is afflicted with GWI -- with procedures for filing a claim for disability with the Department of Veterans Affairs and enhancing the probability of success in that endeavor.
Gulf War Illness is not something you can claim under 38 USC 1117. GWI is only a term to describe the symptoms veterans have from their service in the Gulf War. The VA and DOD are working on a case definition for it to be diagnosed as medically unexplained chronic multi-symptom illness, but this has not happened yet. It should be done soon.
The contents of this guide are for informational purposes only. Every effort is made to achieve accuracy, but neither the National Gulf War Resource Center, Inc. nor its principals assume responsibility for the accuracy or veracity of the information contained herein.
This guide is distributed freely to veterans, Veteran Service Organizations, accredited VA Agents, lawyers, and others interested in helping those who are ill, injured, or disabled due to the Gulf War. Any other use requires the written authorization of the National Gulf War Resource Center (NGWRC) or sources used in this guide.
Thank you one and all,
James A. Bunker, Executive Director & VA Accredited Claims Agent.