Gulf War Syndrome
Gulf War Syndrome is a term used to classify a group of seemingly unrelated symptoms that many veterans experienced after serving in the Gulf War. Gulf War Syndrome is not an actual condition, just a catch-all term for various symptoms.
The VASRD does not give a code or rating for Gulf War Syndrome. Instead, the individual symptoms that are classified as Gulf War Syndrome are rated. Remember, the VA will rate every Gulf War Syndrome symptom, while the DoD will only rate the Gulf War Syndrome symptoms that make the service member unfit for duty.
Gulf War Syndrome symptoms can be very different for each case. Gulf War Syndrome symptoms can include, but are not limited to, fatigue, headaches, memory problems, joint pain, diarrhea, indigestion, nerve conditions, skin conditions, respiratory conditions, PTSD, and many more.
When finding your disability rating, each of these Gulf War Syndrome symptoms should be rated as separate conditions. Remember, however that a single symptom CANNOT be rated twice. In other words, there may be numerous symptoms that really just describe one condition. In this case, they cannot be rated separately since they are already covered by the single overall condition. For example, difficulty breathing and low oxygen in the blood can both be caused by a single respiratory condition. Low oxygen in the blood can then not be rated additionally as a blood condition since it is already covered by the lung condition.
Let’s walk through an example of rating Gulf War Syndrome. Let’s say that veteran Bob has the following symptoms that have been classified as Gulf War Syndrome:
– Skin rashes
– Difficulty concentrating
If we sort through these symptoms, we find that the majority of them (depression, nightmares, anxiety, difficulty concentrating, and flashbacks) are mental symptoms. We then need to find which mental disorder best describes all of these mental symptoms. These symptoms are all common symptoms of PTSD. As long as the symptoms are severe enough to qualify as PTSD, a single rating for PTSD will be given for all these Gulf War Syndrome symptoms. Depression cannot be rated separately as Chronic Depression, since the depression is already covered by rating PTSD.
Veteran Bob’s remaining Gulf War Syndrome symptoms are all unrelated to each other, and thus can be rated separately. Fatigue can be rated as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, code 6354. Headaches are rated as Migraine Headaches under code 8100. And skin rashes can be rated under code 7806, Dermatitis.
That’s it. Just remember when rating Gulf War Syndrome to rate each symptom separately unless two or more symptoms are all covered by a single condition.
To ensure that you receive the proper disability rating for your Gulf War Syndrome, make sure to understand the entire DoD disability process, VA disability process, and how the VASRD rates conditions.