Question and Answers
Diabetes Mellitus (Type II) As A Presumptive Condition
for In-County Vietnam Veterans
1. What veterans will be affected when this condition is added as a presumptive condition for those exposed to herbicides/dioxins?
Honorably discharged veterans who served in the Republic of Vietnam during the period January 9, 1962 through May 7, 1975 and have "adult onset diabetes mellitus". This does not include veteran's who served in the Republic of Vietnam during the period February 28, 1961, to January 9, 1962.
2. What does "presumptive condition" mean?
Normally, the claimant must show proof of relationship between service and the condition being claimed. Under presumption of service connection, VA presumes the service-connected relationship exist based on the other qualifying criteria, such as dates and location of service and that the condition being claimed, in this case, is associated with exposure to Agent Orange.
3. Must I have served "in-country" Vietnam to be eligible?
To have presumptive service connection granted for diabetes mellitus based on Vietnam service, the claimant must have served in-country.
4. What does "in-country" mean? What if I served in support of operations in Vietnam, for example, on board a ship in the Gulf of Tonkin?
During the period 1/9/62 through 5/7/75, you must have physically served or visited in the Republic of Vietnam (RVM), including service in the waters offshore if the conditions of service involved duty or visitation in Vietnam. This means the ship must have come to port in the RVN and you disembarked.
5. Will private medical records be accepted as proof of my diabetes? Will I be required to undergo a VA examination?
If private medical records are sufficient, VA can make a determination and grant based on those records. If not, a VA examination will be required. These records should:
Comment on the age of onset and the diagnostic test used to affirmatively diagnose this condition.
Comment on the treatment modalities (i.e. Insulin, diet, regulation of activities, etc).
Discuss, if applicable, the prior and current episodes of ketoacidosis of hypoglycemic reactions. Were hospitalizations required? What was the frequency of hospitalizations?
Fully describe any complications that stem from the veteran's diabetes mellitus; such as vision; cardiac; vascular; renal; neurologic (including both peripheral neuropathy and cerebral effects); amputations; and other associated complications.
6. I applied for service-connection for my diabetes and was denied. The condition was however, rated as non-service connected. Will I need to reapply for service connection?
As soon as the governing regulations regarding this issue are published, if you had in-country Vietnam service and have diabetes, you will need to reapply. Any veteran in this situation should contact his or her local VA office at 1-800-827-1000 or by e-mail through the VA web page (www.va.gov).
7. My husband died from diabetes and was an in-country Vietnam veteran. Do I now qualify for service connected death benefits (DIC)?
If you believe the cause of death was related to diabetes and the veteran had in-country service, you should contact the local VA office to determine your eligibility.
8. When will my benefits begin if I am granted service connection for diabetes?
VA must publish regulations to implement this decision. Benefit payments cannot begin prior to the date the VA publishes the final regulation concerning this issue. We expect the process to be completed by late Spring 2001.
9. Will I receive retroactive benefits based on a grant of service connection due to presumptive service in Vietnam?
No. The regulations will not have a provision for retroactive payment prior to the date the final regulation is published.
10. If I am already service connected for diabetes, will I get an increase based on this change?
You will not receive any additional benefits as a result of this change. However, if your diabetic condition has increased in severity since you were last rated by VA, you should contact your local VA office. You can file a claim for reevaluation and the local VA office can provide assistance with that claim.
11. Will I be eligible for medical treatment?
Even if you decide not to file a claim based on exposure to herbicide, you can still get a free physical examination at the nearest VA Medical Center. You may also be entitled to free ongoing medical treatment at a VA medical facility. You should contact the nearest VA medical facility or you can obtain information and an application for health benefits at the Veterans Health Administration web site at http://www.va.gov/health/default.asp or by calling 1-877-222-8387.
12. Where can I get a copy of the National Academy of Sciences Study on Herbicide/Dioxin Exposure and Type 2 Diabetes?
You can download a copy of the study from the NAS web site at www.nap.edu/html/diabetes.