I am a Vietnam Vet, USAF, and I recently was diagnosed with Wegener's Granulomatosis. I was in the Air Force from September 24, 1963 thru December 7, 1967, honorable discharge as Captain. I served in Vietnam for the last year plus of my service. I am 69 years old. My DD214 states I had 11 years and 27 days of Foreign Service, but under "Other Service" is 2 months and 27 days which I believe was extended stay in Vietnam.
I am led to believe according to a Fort McClellan website that the "The VA agency now recognizes "autoimmune disorders" in disability claims for PCB exposure" (link below, top has data, bottom has blog comments, including mine).
I was never sick until this happened, out of nowhere. There is no known cause for the disease, so the only link I have as to a possible cause is Vietnam and Agent Orange. The webpage I mention seems to verify that, but I am receiving conflicting information on this.
I am hoping to file for Disability Compensation. I am now on dialysis three days a week, and I'm a single parent on Social Security. I have an 18 year old son who lives with me, and I have joint custody of my 23 year old autistic son.
What are your thoughts on this? Do you believe I will be able to gather VA disability benefits? I'm certainly disabled. I was planning to meet with our local VA representative some time next week, but would like to gather as much insight prior to this meeting.
I believe that you have little, if any, chance of prevailing in having your current condition rated as service connected.
To come to this conclusion I've done a quick search of 10 years of decisions by the Board of Veterans Appeals http://www.bva.va.gov/
This is often a good way of quickly determining how many similar cases have concluded and is a good predictor for what may happen should you choose to file.
There are very few cases of Wegener's Granulomatosis in the database. Most mentions of the term Wegener's Granulomatosis are found when it is noted that the disease is ruled out.
In the single case that I found here http://www.va.gov/vetapp07/files2/0717288.txt that attempted to link Wegener's Granulomatosis to Agent Orange the judge found no evidence was presented that tied the disease to dioxin and then he went on to say that many studies showed no causal relationship.
You say that there is no known cause for the condition and you are correct. The vast majority of people who are afflicted with Wegener's Granulomatosis are civilians and do not have any record of exposure to herbicides so your logic won't be given much weight.
VA will not listen to your financial needs, "I'm a single parent on Social Security. I have an 18 year old son who lives with me (Senior in High School, will be going to college in the Fall of 2011), and I have joint custody of my 23 year old autistic son" in the adjudication process.
VA will reach a decision based on the applicable law that governs the process and nothing else.
Your one single chance to prevail if you were to file for disability compensation is if you were to have a medical expert, a physician with significant knowledge of the disease and the effects of dioxin, issue a nexus letter that clearly stated that he/she believed that it was "more likely than not" that your condition was caused by your service.
There is much more about the nexus letter on my web site at http://www.jimstrickland912.com/Nexus_Letter.html
I wish I'd been able to offer more positive news but I'm reasonably sure that without a very good nexus letter that you would not be awarded benefits.