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VFW WASHINGTON WEEKLY, March 19, 2010

Posted at 11:48 AM on Friday, March 19, 2010 by Dept MO-VFW

In This Issue:
1. VA to Ease Gulf War Benefits
2. Claims Summit Draws a Crowd
3. Vietnam MIA Identified

1. VA to Ease Gulf War Benefits: VA Secretary Eric Shinseki announced
Thursday he is taking steps to make it easier for veterans to obtain
disability compensation for certain diseases associated with service
during the first Gulf War, as well as those who served in Iraq and
Afghanistan on or after Sept. 19, 2001. VA will publish a proposed
regulation in the Federal Register to establish new service-connection
presumptions for nine specific infectious diseases: Brucellosis,
Campylobacter jejuni, Coxiella burnetii (Q fever), malaria,
Mycobacterium tuberculosis, Nontyphoid Salmonella, Shigella, Visceral
leishmaniasis and West Nile virus. Without a rule change for
presumptive conditions, veterans are required to provide medical
evidence to establish an actual connection between a specific disease
and military service in Southwest Asia or Afghanistan. With the
proposed rule, a veteran would only have to show service in Southwest
Asia or Afghanistan, and a current diagnosis of one of the nine
diseases. A final regulation will be published after a 60-day public
comment period. For more information about disability compensation or
health problems associated with military service during the first Gulf
War and OEF/OIF, go to www.publichealth.va.gov/exposures/gulfwar/ or
www.va.gov <http://www.va.gov/> .

2. Claims Summit Draws a Crowd: VFW participated in a claims summit held
by House VA Committee Chairman Bob Filner (D-CA). More than 50
witnesses discussed problems, ideas and potential solutions to help the
disability claims process. Overhauling the veterans' benefit delivery
system is the number one priority goal of the VFW. We have asked VBA to
improve their process by enhancing training and quality, improving IT
infrastructure, and demanding a total commitment from leadership to
accurately adjudicate claims the first time. For a list of VFW's 2010
legislative priority goals, go to
http://www.vfw.org/PR/Legislative/2010PriorityGoals%20PROOF.pdf.

3. Vietnam MIA Identified: The Defense Department announced this week
that the remains of Air Force Maj. Curtis Daniel Miller of Palacios,
Texas, have been identified and are being returned to his family for
burial with full military honors in the Dallas-Fort Worth National
Cemetery. On March 29, 1972, Miller was one of 14 crewmen aboard an
AC-130 gunship operating in southern Laos when it was struck by an enemy
surface-to-air missile and crashed. Search and rescue efforts ended
after a few days due to heavy enemy activity in the area. In 1986, a
joint U.S.-Lao team, lead by the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command,
surveyed and excavated the crash site in Savannakhet Province. Evidence
recovered resulted in nine crewmember identifications. The site would
be excavated twice more in 2005-06, which resulted in more
identifications. Remains that could not be individually identified will
be buried together in Arlington National Cemetery.


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