VA Extends Deadline for Gulf War Illnesses

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs recently moved back a deadline for Gulf War veterans that would have run out at the end of 2011. The new deadline gives Gulf War veterans until the end of 2016 to develop war-related illnesses for which they would be eligible for compensation.

The VA made the announcement about the deadline extension just before the old deadline expired in December. The VA extended the deadline because the health issues that have come out of the Gulf War have been misunderstood and some are still being researched.

“When there is an uncertainty about the connection between a medical problem and military service, veterans are entitled to the benefit of doubt,” said VA Secretary Eric Shinskei in a press release. “Not all the wounds of war are fully understood.”

Gulf War veterans have reported a variety of ailments that have not always been easy for the medical community to explain. Those illnesses have been everything from pain in muscles and joints to headaches and fatigue.

About 700,000 men and women were deployed to the region during the Gulf War in 1990 and 1991. Studies have linked the mysterious illnesses to the Middle East environment at the time such as blowing sand dust and petroleum smoke and even the inoculations and other preventative measures many took when they deployed, according to the Army Times.

With the new extension, veterans who develop symptoms of war-related illness over the next five years will still be eligible to apply for compensation through the VA. The American Legion has pushed for there to be no deadline for veterans to develop new symptoms of illnesses traced back to the Gulf War, according to the Army Times report.

The new deadline will affect veterans who develop what the VA calls Medically Unexplained Chronic Multisymptom Illnesses. The government defines this illness as any one or combination of a cluster of unexplained chronic symptoms including “fatigue, headaches, joint pain, indigestion, insomnia, dizziness, respiratory disorders and memory problems,” according to the VA’s public health website.

The VA stays away from the phrase “Gulf War Syndrome” because the health issues veterans have reported since the Gulf War have not met the definition of a syndrome, so the VA uses Medically Unexplained Chronic Multisymptom Ilnesses.

Veterans do not need to show a link between their Medically Unexplained Chronic Multisymptom Illness and the Gulf War. The VA presumes that symptoms that last for six months are related to the service in the war, according to the VA’s website.

Gulf War veterans who show new signs of chronic illness can hire an experienced law firm to represent them in the search for compensation.

James G. Fausone is a Veterans disability lawyer and Veterans attorney with Legal Help for Veterans, PLLC. Learn more at
James G. Fausone is a Veterans disability lawyer and Veterans attorney with Legal Help for Veterans, PLLC. Learn more at