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VA Extends Deadline for Gulf War Veterans’ Disability Claims

The Department of Veterans Affairs recently extended a deadline for Gulf War Veterans to claim disability related to their service.

Originally planned to end December 31, 2021, the VA extended the date to service more Gulf War Veterans claiming disability diagnoses. They’ve extended the deadline to December 31, 2026.

Gulf War Syndrome

The extension revolves around conditions related to something called “Gulf War Syndrome”. These illnesses have been reported by Gulf War Veterans, and they are usually unexplained chronic symptoms. The VA prefers the terms “chronic multisymptom illness” or “undiagnosed illness”. 

Regardless of the name, the symptoms commonly include:

  • Fatigue
  • Headaches
  • Joint pain
  • Indigestion
  • Insomnia
  • Dizziness
  • Respiratory disorders
  • Memory problems

Gulf War Veterans do not need to prove a connection between their military service and illnesses to receive VA disability compensation. 

Connection to Military Service

According to the VA’s Public Health website, “[the] VA presumes certain chronic, unexplained symptoms existing for 6 months or more are related to Gulf War service without regard to cause.”

Presumptive conditions mentioned by the VA can include:

  • Myalgic Encephalomyelitis / Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS) – a condition of long-term and severe fatigue that is not relieved by rest. It is not directly caused by other conditions.
  • Fibromyalgia – a condition associated with widespread muscle pain. Insomnia, muscle stiffness, headaches, and memory problems are also associated with this condition.
  • Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders – This condition refers to recurring symptoms in any part of the gastrointestinal tract. This includes irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), functional dyspepsia, or abdominal pain.
  • Undiagnosed Illnesses – This could include a number of conditions like abnormal weight loss, cardiovascular disease, muscle and joint pain, headaches, menstrual disorders, neurological / psychological problems, respiratory disorders, and sleep disturbances.

To be eligible for compensation, a Gulf War Veteran must have been diagnosed by the VA of at least 10% disabled after their service.

RELATED: Disabled Veterans May Get Expanded Retirement Benefits

Who is a Gulf War Veteran?

According to the VA’s definition, Gulf War Service “is active military duty in any … areas in the Southwest Asia theater of operations at any time [between] August 2, 1990 to present.” 

Veterans who served in Operation Iraqi Freedom (2003-2010) and Operation New Dawn (2010-2011) are also considered Gulf War Veterans.

The Southwest Asia Theater of Operations includes the following areas:

  • Iraq
  • Kuwait
  • Saudi Arabia
  • The neutral zone between Iraq and Saudi Arabia
  • Bahrain
  • The United Arab Emirates (U.A.E.)
  • Oman
  • Gulf of Aden
  • Gulf of Oman
  • Waters of the Persian Gulf, the Arabian Sea, and the Red Sea
  • The airspace above these locations

If you’ve served in any of these areas, and at the eligible times, then you should take advantage of the VA’s free Gulf War Registry Health Exam. This exam will help find potential long-term problems related to your service in the Gulf. 

Additionally, Veterans eligible for the Gulf War Registry may also be eligible for the Airborne Hazards and Open Burn Pit Registry.

Benefits For Gulf War Veterans

For our Gulf War Veterans suffering from illnesses related to their service, there are a multitude of benefits available.

In addition to the health exam and registries listed above, Gulf War Veterans may be eligible for disability compensation for their conditions. These can be the “medically unexplained illnesses” identified by the VA, and can also include certain Infectious Diseases associated with military service in the Gulf.

To file a new claim, or expand a current disability rating, learn more about VA disability compensation to see what you may be entitled to.

RELATED: How to File VA Disability Claims

Finally, if you served in the Gulf and you’re suffering from any of the conditions listed above, then get your free Gulf War Health Exam. You have just over five years to get this done!




About the author

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Lori Waddell serves as Co-director of an emergency response COAD in Montana, a freelance writer, and an Air Force Key Spouse. She is passionate about empowering communities and individuals through knowledge and resources. She currently lives in Montana with her husband and two children.