VCS ISSUE PAPER- Patterns of VA Errors & Denials in Gulf War Illness Claims
Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) regulation recognizes two classes of chronic qualifying disabilities entitled to presumptive service connection with service in the Southwest Asia (SWA) theater of operations: undiagnosed illnesses (UDX) and medically explained chronic multisymptom illnesses (MUCMI).
Based on a review of several hundred Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA or VA) disability compensation claims over several years, Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA) and Veterans for Common Sense (VCS) identified distinct patterns of VA errors and denials in these “Gulf War Illness claims”.
This issue paper contains three parts describing the patterns and providing examples:
- VA errors and denials for MUCMI claims
- VA errors and denials for UDX claims
- VA errors and denials based on location and dates of service in Gulf War claims
 See generally 38 C.F.R. § 3.317.
Persian Gulf War veterans who served in Israel, Egypt, Turkey, Syria, and Jordan (including their airspace and territorial waters) are eligible for the definitive Gulf War medal — the Southwest Asia Service Medal (SWASM) — but unjustly are not eligible for Gulf War-specific benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).
A July 13, 2017 Congressional hearing focused on a June 2017 Government Accountability (GAO) report related to Gulf War Illness (GWI) issues, with bottom line findings of an 87 percent overall denial rate that is three times worse than any other type of claim the Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA) adjudicates.
VCS provided recommendations for these GWI-related claims issues and their intertwined relationship with medical research. An attachment includes Gulf War veterans’ accounts of how their own VA claims for GWI issues were denied. The negative impact on these veterans compels us to seek to find solutions to favorably impact them and help to relieve their suffering however we can.
This single-page fact sheet provides beginning and ending dates for U.S. wars and select combat operations, total numbers of U.S. service members, KIA’s (killed in action), and, where available, WIA’s (wounded in action). Data current through April 25, 2019.