The National Gulf War Resource Center (NGWRC), an advocacy group for Gulf War Veterans, spoke to VA Secretary Bob McDonald about health care, research and benefits for Gulf War Veterans. Part one of the discussion  focusing on health care and research. In part two, the discussion focuses on benefits and VA’s accomplishments for Gulf War Veterans.

National Gulf War Resource Center: Under current regulations fo, to be eligible for presumptive service connection, Gulf War Veterans must have experienced qualifying illnesses by Dec. 31, 2016. Since this date has passed, what is VA doing to extend it?

Secretary McDonald:  Disability benefits available to Gulf War Veterans under VA regulation 38 CFR § 3.317 were set to expire on Dec. 31, 2016.  We published a new rule that extended this expiration date five more years to Dec. 31, 2021. This allows Gulf War Veterans to be granted service connection for a presumptive health condition that began any time between the beginning of their active duty service in the Southwest Asia theater of military operations and Dec. 31, 2021.  A successful claim requires the presumptive health condition to be at least 10 percent disabling.   More information on benefits for Gulf War Veterans can be found at on the VA website.

NGWRC: What is the most recent data on the benefits approval and denial rate for Gulf War Veterans?

Secretary McDonald:  The most recent data we have show a grant (approval) rate of 21 percent for Veterans who have benefits decisions for either an