The Veterans Administration has estimated that about 40 percent of the 700 thousand men and women who served in the 1991 Gulf War suffer from an assortment of chronic ailments. Now commonly referred to as Gulf War Syndrome, symptoms include fatigue, headaches, joint pain, memory loss, and respiratory issues among several others.

During the Gulf War, service men and women were exposed to a toxic brew of smoke from oil well fires, pesticides, micro-fine sand particles, and open pits where chemicals, paint, medical and human waste was burned. For veterans exposed to these toxins in a war that began in the last century in Iraq, it has been an uphill battle to win disability benefits. Internal VA documents show the VA rejected more than 300 thousand claims Gulf War Syndrome dating back to 2002. While many of those claims were appropriately denied because some veterans weren’t properly diagnosed or their impairments were not connected to Gulf War exposures, approval rates for Gulf War Syndrome claims are shockingly low—just 17 percent.

Nevertheless, if you are a Gulf War vet and you suffer from chronic disabilities resulting from your undiagnosed illnesses you may eligible for a variety of VA benefits including free, comprehensive medical examinations; laboratory testing and other diagnostic tests;  and medical treatment for your symptoms. You may also be eligible to receive monthly disability compensation from the VA.

There is no denying that Gulf War-related claims are complex and difficult to win. Despite the fact that regulations addressing Gulf War Syndrome have been in place for about 20 years, the VA still struggles to correctly apply these rules to veterans’ claims. The VA does not have a straight-forward process for granting or disallowing benefits and unfortunately many deserving veterans are being turned down for disability benefits. Recent changes in leadership at the VA are also a cause for concern. The previous Secretary of Veterans Affairs had promised improvements in handling veterans’ claims and greater support for Gulf War veterans.

Despite these obstacles, Gulf War Syndrome claims can be won, so if you believe you have valid claim we urge you not to give up. Let us put our knowledge and experience to work for you.  Call us at Cuddigan Law for a free consultation to evaluate your situation.

Sean D. Cuddigan
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SSA and VA Disability Attorney in Omaha, Nebraska