Access to health care for veterans and compensation for illnesses related to brain injury have been made easier under a new set of regulations approved by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, New York Times reported on Monday.
The new rules, which will be enforced from Jan. 16, include compensation for Parkinsonism, dementia, depression, seizures and hormone-deficiency diseases related to brain malfunction, the Times said, adding that thousands of veterans would be able to file health care claims under the new rules.
Since the year 2000, more than 280,000 service members and veterans have been diagnosed with traumatic brain injuries of varied severities, according to data from the Defense Department. And, the majority of head trauma cases are caused not when troops are deployed in active combat duty but are a result of accidents during military training and vehicle crashes.
Existing rules require veterans with brain injuries to submit medical evidence that their condition is linked to their military careers. Under the new rules, veterans will be eligible for additional compensation and health care for diseases caused by head trauma without medical proof that the injury was caused during military service.
However, the new rules state that veterans with brain-damage related diseases will be eligible for benefits only if their brain injury is classified as moderate or severe. According to the Defense Department, 82.5 percent of brain trauma cases between 2000 and 2013 have been mild, and are less serious than cases of moderate, severe and penetrating brain injuries.
The changes also set time limits on some of the illnesses, and state that a brain injury incident needs to have occurred within 15 years of the onset of dementia, while hormone-deficiency diseases need to be diagnosed within one year of brain injury. Cases of depression need to be apparent within three years of a moderate injury or within one year of a mild injury.