“The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him.” These were the words of the great writer and philosopher G.K. Chesterton. The quote describes the bravery and overall patriotic character of the United States veterans who dedicate their lives to serving and protecting this Nation.
It’s no wonder the 11th of November is a federal holiday that has been established to honor the United States Armed Forces, and the month of May is recognized as Military Appreciation Month, paying tribute to those who have selflessly served.
These veterans have carried out acts of bravery and loyalty to the country by leaving behind their loved ones to embark on missions to protect the U.S. from external threats. Years of sacrifice, courage, deployment and duty take a toll on military families, and yet these men and women push forward, engaging in risky missions (including war). They put their lives on the line so that the country can remain alive and healthy.
Returning home, veterans reminisce about the past and hope to see the fruits of their labor. They appreciate the occasional “thank you for your service” from their neighbors, and they rely on the U.S. government to provide them with ongoing benefits to mitigate some of the aftereffects of war and the dangers faced as part of their service..
In order to fulfill these needs, there is a federal program in place called Veterans Disability Compensation. It aims to provide compensation for veterans with service-connected disabilities resulting from active-duty service as well as pensions for those 65 years and older subject to income limitations.. Pensions were put into place back in 1776 to encourage enlistments. VA Disability Compensation is not means-tested.
Veteran Victims of Camp Lejeune
Camp Lejeune in North Carolina was constructed in 1942 and served as a base for thousands of Marines. Under the Congressional Act of 1982, these Marines began to conduct investigations concerning the camp’s water source and found that two of the eight water treatment plants on the base provided volatile organic compounds in their drinking water. Unfortunately, many Marines and their families consumed this contaminated water daily, exposing them to the potential of developing adult leukemia, bladder cancer, kidney cancer, liver cancer, multiple myeloma, Parkinson’s disease and many other life-threatening diseases and illnesses.
On August 10, 2022, President Biden signed the Camp Lejeune Justice Act (S.3373) into law as part of the PACT Act of 2022, making it possible for those who were exposed to the toxic water to seek compensation for their injuries as a result of exposure to the toxic water at Camp LeJeune between August 1953 and December 1987.
Burn Pit Legislation
The PACT Act also expanded VA health care and benefits for military personnel exposed to burn pits during active duty. Many veterans used burn pits to dispose of hazardous waste, including human and medical waste, heavy metals and asbestos. When they set fire to these items, fumes were inevitably ingested. The PACT Act increased the availability of benefits for those affected.
Agent Orange is a defoliant chemical that was used to clear vegetation for military operations during the Vietnam War. It is a highly concentrated herbicide, significantly more destructive than commercial herbicides used in domestic gardens and on farms. A major area of Vietnam was covered with thick trees, affecting visibility and penetration of the U.S.. army and air strike. With the government’s approval, the U.S. sprayed the chemical to clear these areas. Over a quarter of the country’s forest was damaged, and a large number of Vietnam natives, as well as the U.S. military, were exposed.
Agent Orange contains a very toxic compound known as dioxin which doesn’t decompose easily. Anyone subjected to high levels of dioxins has an increased chance of developing cancer. The harmful compound also causes birth defects, hypertension, and damage to the skin and liver. The PACT Act provides additional coverage for veterans who develop medical conditions as a result of exposure to Agent Orange, but benefits may be delayed.
Denial of Disability Claims
As the U.S. military is expanding, so too is the number of veterans. Therefore, the need for Veterans Affairs (VA) benefits is also growing. Unfortunately, however, there continues to be an overwhelming number of unprocessed disability claims and those resulting in wrongful rejections. The VA is backlogged, and it seems it will take years to catch up.
Veterans have reported that the VA generally takes months to review their claims and, after waiting for a significant period of time, they’re not always granted. In fact, the VA reports that as many as 70% of claims are initially denied!
Here are some reasons why the VA may deny a claim:
- Disabled veterans could be ineligible if they had a dishonorable discharge.
- The application would be denied if the disability or illness was self-inflicted.
- The claim would not be granted if the veteran was injured while absent, without official leave.
- Injuries sustained while imprisoned or detained for an unlawful crime would also invalidate the application.
It’s important to note that you can still qualify for disability coverage if you were injured but are still able to work. Some injuries that are covered include: traumatic brain injury, orthopedic damage, and psychiatric disorders.
Justinian & Associates Can Render Help to Veterans
Justinian & Associates is an Austin personal injury law firm with offices also in San Antonio. Amber Pang Parra in Justinian’s San Antonio office is a VA-accredited lawyer that renders services to injured veterans. Amber focuses her practice on helping those who’ve served our country fight for the benefits they deserve. Not only will Amber and Justinian & Associates go to bat for veterans, but there is nothing owed upfront and no risk for letting us help.
Justinian & Associates advises that veterans consider submitting an appeal if their application is initially denied. Direct appeals must be filed within 1 year; supplemental reviews may be filed with new and relevant evidence even after 1 year has elapsed. We can help veterans review their options, obtain necessary information, and prepare documents for submission.
Justinian & Associates has rendered legal help to veteran victims exposed to Camp Lejeune water contamination and Agent Orange for more than a decade. We understand the sacrifice it took to serve this country and our mission is to help ensure you receive the compensation you’re rightfully owed.
Contact us today using the form below, or reach out to us via chat.