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VA promises to improve health care for Gulf War veterans

Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric K. Shinseki recently made an announcement that the VA Department will make a conscious effort to guarantee that the veterans deployed during the Gulf War two decades ago would get nothing but the best health care. To help with the said outreach outreach program, the Veterans’ Illnesses Task Force strongly suggested to have a more organized date-sharing with the Defense Department. The Department of Defense reports:

The new recommendations come on the tail of a VA proposal announced last month to presume nine specific infectious diseases to be service-connected for anyone who served in Southwest Asia after Aug. 2, 1990, or in Afghanistan after Sept. 18, 2001.

That ruling, once adopted, will impact veterans who deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan. It will relieve those suffering from the designated diseases from the burden of proving their ailments are linked to service in the Persian Gulf or Afghanistan to receive VA health care and disability payments.

The nine diseases are: brucellosis, Campylobacter jejuni, Coxiella burnetii (Q fever), malaria, Mycobacterium tuberculosis, nontyphoidal Salmonella, Shigella, visceral leishmaniasis (kala-azar) and West Nile virus.

During an interview with American Forces Press Service, Shinseki called the proposed ruling a positive step in taking care of Gulf War veterans suffering numerous symptoms and diagnoses yet to be pinpointed to any specific exposure.

“We can’t historically go back and decide what actually caused [Gulf War Illness],” he said. “We spent $350 million trying to find the cause, and we haven’t arrived at a clear answer.”
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Rather than simply waiting for researchers to come up with a cause-and effect solution, Shinseki pressed VA to come up with a plan to compensate affected veterans now.

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