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December 29, 2013

VETERANS' CORNER: New VA regs designed to help vets with TBI

By JIM VINES

New regulations developed recently by the Department of Veterans Affairs will allow veterans with severe traumatic brain injury and diagnosed with any of five other ailments an easier path to receive additional disability.

The new regulations, which take effect Jan. 14, impacts some veterans living with TBI who also have Parkinson’s disease, certain types of dementia, depression, unprovoked seizures or certain diseases of the Hypothalamus and pituitary glands.

This regulation stems from a report of the National Academy of Sciences, Institute of Medicine regarding the association between TBI and the five diagnosable illnesses.

The IOM report, “Gulf War and Health, Volume 7: Long-Term Consequences of Traumatic Brain Injury,” found sufficient evidence to link moderate or severe levels of TBI with the five ailments. As scientific knowledge advances, VA will expand its programs to ensure veterans receive the care they deserve.

The new regulations, printed in the Federal Register, say if certain veterans with service-connected TBI also have one of the five illnesses, then the second illness will also be considered as service connected for the calculation of VA disability compensation.

Eligibility for expanded benefits will depend upon the severity of the TBI and the time between the injury causing the TBI and the onset of the second illness.

However, veterans can still file a claim to establish direct service connection for these ailments, even if they do not meet the time and severity standards in the new regulation.

Service members who are within 180 days of discharge can also file a pre-discharge claim for TBI online through the VA-DOD eBenefits portal at www.ebenefits.va.gov/ebenefits. Information about VA and DoD programs for brain injury and related research is available at www.dvbic.org.

Enjoy a safe trip into the new year. Become a “designated driver” when the situation warrants.

Speak to you again next week.

Jim Vines is commander of AmVets Post 133.

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