A Comprehensive Collection of
Materials Relating to the Veterans
Benefits Adjudication Process
Selected Materials on Gulf War Illnesses Claims
Congress has provided that VA can grant benefits for undiagnosed illnesses and
chronic multisymptom illnesses related to service in the Gulf War. Certain specified
medical conditions are also presumed to be related to Gulf War service. Under these
provisions, the claimant does not need a medical opinion that states that there is a
relationship between the illness or condition and any specific event in service.
However, the claim will still need to be supported with adequate documentation of
the veteran's post-service symptoms.
The special provisions relating to Gulf War Illnesses are found in 38 U.S.C. § 1117
[available here] and 38 U.S.C. § 1118 [available here]. In particular:
- Subsection (a)(2) allows for benefits for "undiagnosed illnesses,"
"medically unexplained chronic multisymptom illness[es]," and any
other condition that VA recognizes as related to Gulf War service.
- Subsection (g) lists thirteen "signs or symptoms that may be a
manifestation of an undiagnosed illness or a chronic multisymptom
- Subsections (b) and (c) describe how VA can add additional
conditions to the list of those that are presumed to be related to Gulf
There have been recent legislative hearings to address the ongoing scientific
research into which conditions may be related to Gulf War service and what the
causes of those conditions might be. Recent legislative hearings include:
- H. Hrg. 111-39 -- The Implications of U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs'
Limited Scope of Gulf War Illness Research, July 30, 2009 [link to House
page for hearing]
- H. Hrg. 111-21 -- Gulf War Illness Research: Is Enough Being Done, May
19, 2009 [download .pdf]
- S. Hrg. 110-314 -- Oversight Hearing on Research and Treatment for Gulf
War Illnesses, Sept. 25, 2007 [download .pdf]
- H. Hrg. 110-38 -- Gulf War Exposures, July 26, 2007 [download .pdf]
VA's primary regulations implementing the laws related to Gulf War Illnesses is
38 C.F.R. § 3.317 [available here]. In particular:
- Subsection 3.317(a)(2)(i)(B) recognizes chronic fatigue syndrome,
fibromyalgia, and irritable bowel syndrome and chronic disabilities under the
- Subsection 3.317(a)(2)(i)(C)(ii) defines "medically unexplained chronic
multisymptom illness" as "a diagnosed illness without conclusive
pathophysiology or etiology, that is characterized by overlapping symptoms
and signs and has features such as fatigue, pain, disability out of proportion
to physical findings, and inconsistent demonstration of laboratory
abnormalities. Chronic multisymptom illnesses of partially understood
etiology and pathophysiology will not be considered medically unexplained."
- Subsection 3.317(a)(4) generally requires at least a six-month history of
symptoms in order for a condition to be recognized as chronic.
A few cases relating to Gulf War illness claims:
The Federal Circuit has not yet addressed any issues related to Gulf
- Tyrues v. Shinseki, 23 Vet. App. 166 (2009) (en banc) (addressing the
procedural relationship between seeking benefits under 38 U.S.C. §
1117 and the general entitlement law) [download .pdf]
- Stankevich v. Nicholson, 19 Vet. App. 470 (2006) (addressing
conflicting evidence regarding whether a condition is the result of an
undiagnosed illness) [download .pdf]
- Gutierrez v. Principi, 19 Vet. App. 1 (2004) (addressing the
relationship between undiagnosed condition and service) [download .
Federal Register Notices
When VA proposes or finalizes a regulation relating to Gulf War Illness conditions or
when it withdraws such a proposed regulation -- including the list of conditions that
are presumed to be related to Gulf War service -- it publishes a public notice in the
Federal Register (which all government agencies use to announce proposed and final
- Extension of Statutory Period for Compensation for Certain Disabilities
Due to Undiagnosed Illnesses and Medically Unexplained Chronic Multi-
Symptom Illnesses, 77 Fed. Reg. 63225 (Oct. 16, 2012) [download .
- Presumptions of Service Connection for Persian Gulf Service. 75 Fed.
Reg. 13051 (Mar. 18, 2010) [download .pdf]
- Determinations Concerning Illnesses Discussed In National Academy
of Sciences Reports on Gulf War and Health, Volumes 4 and 8, 76
Fed. Reg. 21099 (Apr. 14, 2011) (stating no new conditions would be
added on the basis of these reports) [download .pdf]
Law Review Articles
- James P. Terry, Gulf War Syndrome: Addressing Undiagnosed Illness from
the First War with Iraq, 1 Veterans L. Rev. 167 (2009) [available here]
Selected Books and Reports
with which our
young people are
likely to serve in
any war, no matter
how justified, shall
proportional as to
how they perceive
veterans of earlier
wars were treated
and appreciated by