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Veterans Corner: VA claims; approaches to long COVID; Legal Advice Fair | Local News & More News Headlines

 

Q: I served in Desert Shield and Desert Storm! When I returned to the United States and eventually completed my military service, I was already having symptoms like unexplained fatigue, “fuzzy” thinking and other symptoms which eventually were called Gulf War Syndrome. I filed a VA claim for service-connected disability but was denied because the VA claimed there was insufficient data for the medical issues to be considered “presumptive” from exposure to some toxin during my service. I understand the PACT Act has changed the status of some medical conditions. Since my VA claim has been denied, what am I supposed to do to re-establish my claim?

HAS: VA will contact veterans (especially those who have had claims denied) when a presumption of service connection is established or changed. However, veterans previously denied a toxic exposure-related claim are encouraged to file a supplemental claim. Once a supplemental claim is received, VA will review the claim under the new law. To learn about standard VA disability claims, supplemental claims, secondary claims and more, visit www.VA.gov/disability/how-to-file-claim/when-to-file. Additionally, every veteran who is enrolled in VA Health Care will receive an initial toxic exposure screening and a follow-up screening every five years. Veterans who are not enrolled but who are eligible to enroll will have an opportunity to enroll and receive the screening.

The VA has developed a comprehensive publication titled “A Whole Health System Approach to Long COVID: A Guidebook for Caring for Veterans with Long COVID.” This guidebook outlines a whole health, patient-centered approach to treating long COVID, and it includes key information about long COVID signs, symptoms and treatment recommendations. This release is a continuation of the VA pledge to share COVID-19 best practices and lessons learned with other government agencies, private health care systems and practitioners. VA’s Veterans Health Administration clinicians and researchers were among the first health care providers to recognize the national pattern that a secondary illness was occurring in those who had initially recovered from COVID-19. VA has opened more than 20 long COVID programs and their research has led to key findings about long COVID, including that patients who recovered from COVID-19 were significantly more likely to have heart and vascular disease a year after infection as well as a 60% higher risk of mental health challenges one year after recovering. Visit VA’s public health webpage for more information on VA’s approach to COVID-19 and other COVID response reports. Your Veterans Assistance Office has a copy of the guidebook.

LEGAL ADVICE FAIR – PUBLIC INTEREST LAW INITIATIVE

A free Legal Assistance Fair will be held at the Mid-Central Community Action Office at 1301 W. Washington St., Bloomington, on Saturday, Sept. 24, from 9 to 11:30 am Stop by for free advice from lawyers concerning family, housing and debt issues, along with other issues like suspended driver’s license, expungement, immigration and more. Lawyers will provide one-time advice and information but are not able to represent you in court with your legal matter, or to help with matters involving criminal or traffic violations. To set up an appointment with a lawyer, or for more information, call PILI at 833-275-7454 ext. 3 or visit www.legaladvicefairacuityscheduling.as.me. This fair is available to those who meet the financial eligibility guidelines set by our program. The general public may be eligible for this program, so veterans seeking participation in this fair should respond quickly to assure an appointment.

Jerry Vogler is superintendent of the McLean County Veterans Assistance Commission.

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