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Compton: Vets with presumptive diseases may get compensation

By George Compton
Saturday, August 23, 2008

Q. I was recently rated at 20 percent for my diabetes and in the letter from the VA they described the condition as presumptive. How is that different than my other disabilities?

A. Most disabilities are based on an injury or disease that has treatment reflected in service medical records. A presumptive condition means that the disability was caused by something that the veteran was exposed to and it manifests at a later date. Most presumptive conditions are based on being a prisoner of war, exposure to certain types of radiation, and exposure to Agent Orange in Vietnam.

The easiest example is Agent Orange. Veterans who were exposed to Agent Orange are eligible for compensation based on that exposure. Veterans who served in the Republic of Vietnam from Jan. 9, 1962, to May 7, 1975, are presumed to have been exposed to Agent Orange and other herbicides used in support of military operations.

The 11 presumptive diseases are chloracne or other acneform disease similar to chloracne, porphyria cutanea tarda, soft-tissue sarcoma (other than osteosarcoma, chondrosarcoma, Kaposi's sarcoma or mesothelioma), Hodgkin's disease, multiple myeloma, respiratory cancers (lung, bronchus, larynx, trachea), non-Hodgkins lymphoma, prostate cancer, acute and subacute peripheral neuropathy, diabetes mellitus (Type 2) and chronic lymphocytic leukemia.

Q. In this column you stated that a veteran had to be 100 percent service-connected disabled to receive a property tax adjustment. I met a veteran who was 80 percent, and he said he was getting the tax break. Can you explain?

A. If he was rated unemployable by the VA he is getting paid at the 100 percent rate even though he is actually 80 percent service-connected. He would then qualify for the property tax exemption.

Q. My son is in the Army and has had two deployments to Iraq. I am concerned that he was exposed to depleted uranium. How can I find out if he was exposed?

A. The Department of Defense and the VA have procedures for screening service members who were exposed to depleted uranium. We are sending you a fact sheet prepared by the California Department of Veterans Affairs, which explains exposure levels and screening.

— George Compton, retired Army colonel, is the veterans service officer for the County of Ventura, Human Services Agency. Send your questions to Veterans Service Office, 1701 Pacific Ave., Suite 110, Oxnard, CA 93033; phone number: 385-6366; fax: 385-6371; or e-mail:

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