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Veterans struggle with declining health, potential disabilities

A disability benefits attorney knows that not every health condition has a known cause or produces outwardly visible symptoms. That does not mean that such conditions cannot be debilitating and disrupt an individual’s daily living and ability to work, however. 

Fortunately, many disability programs recognize the seriousness of chronic health issues such as chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, autoimmune disorders or chronic pain. The Social Security Administration also recognizes the impact that chronic health conditions can make, and has set forth criteria by which many chronic conditions can qualify for disability benefits. 

That’s good news for the millions of Americans that have returned from combat service in Iraq and Afghanistan since deployment began in 2001. Although combat fatality rates may have been historically low, a recent article reveals that many veterans are nevertheless returning home in worse physical and mental health. 

In the case of one veteran, for example, the collective effect of wearing heavy body armor, a Humvee accident and a rooftop fall during his time overseas has compressed his spine by an inch and left him in constant back pain. Other veterans that sustained non-combat head injuries may only now be experiencing the effects, such as migraines, dizziness, memory loss, and/or symptoms of traumatic brain injury.

These are not isolated incidents. According to a national poll jointly conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation and The Washington Post, over half of the 2.6 million returning service members report a decline in their physical or mental health, with over 80 percent of those injuries not attributable to a serious combat injury.

For many veterans, the non-traumatic injuries they sustained during their service might present a risk of developing into chronic issues. Such veterans would be well served to consult with a disability attorney today, to understand how to begin properly collecting evidence of their condition and treatments. That documentation might come in handy later, if a veteran needs to file a disability claim.

Source: The Washington Post, “The other wounds,” Rajiv Chandrasekaran, April 8, 2014

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