National

Mar 18, 2010 12:25 PM by Bea Karnes, News First 5

VA seeks to make benefits easier for vets to get

The Veterans Affairs Department is taking steps for the first time to make it easier for veterans of the Iraq or Afghanistan wars to get disability benefits for malaria, West Nile Virus and other diseases.

The VA has proposed a regulation change that lets veterans qualify for benefits by showing only that they served in the recent conflicts, or in the Gulf War, and have a diagnosis of any of nine diseases. Called "presumptive status," it's easier to prove their illness stems from war service.

Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki made the decision after a recommendation by the agency's Gulf War Veterans Illnesses Task Force.

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