VA extends deadline for Gulf War illness benefit claims to 2021
WASHINGTON – For the next five years, veterans will have an easier time seeking benefits for illnesses linked to service in the Gulf War because of an extension issued Monday by the Department of Veterans Affairs.
Since 1994, the VA has automatically presumed a connection from Gulf War service, which included a toxic environment of oil fires and chemical weapons, to an increased risk for several illnesses. The connection enables veterans to receive a disability rating and benefits more quickly.
But the presumed connection and the ability to seek benefits was set to expire at the end of this year, after being extended four times previously. Effective Monday, the VA extended it a fifth time, to Dec. 31, 2021.
“This end date creates such an anxiety among the Gulf War veterans that gets so high as that deadline approaches,” said James Bunker, the executive director of the National Gulf War Resource Center in Topeka, Kansas. “[Secretary Bob] McDonald promised us the beginning of this year that this extension would happen.”
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