VA establishes presumptive service connection for rare respiratory cancers for certain veterans

22

By Raymond Taylor

As part of President Joe Biden’s Unity Agenda commitment to support the nation’s veterans, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is adding nine rare respiratory cancers to the list of presumed service-connected disabilities due to military environmental exposures to fine particulate matter.

The following list of rare respiratory cancers have been added to the VA’s regulations through an Interim Final Rule published in the Federal Register on April 26:

• Squamous cell carcinoma of the larynx.

• Squamous cell carcinoma of the trachea.

• Adenocarcinoma of the trachea.

• Salivary gland-type tumors of the trachea.

• Adenosquamous carcinoma of the lung.

• Large cell carcinoma of the lung.

• Salivary gland-type tumors of the lung.

• Sarcomatoid carcinoma of the lung.

• Typical and atypical carcinoid of the lung.

The VA determined through a focused review of scientific and medical evidence there is biological plausibility between airborne hazards and carcinogenesis of the respiratory tract — and the unique circumstances of these rare cancers warrant a presumption of service connection.

The rarity and severity of these illnesses, and the reality these conditions present, is a situation where it may not be possible to develop additional evidence, which prompted VA to take this action.

“Last year we made promises to fundamentally change and improve how we establish and expedite presumptions — now we’re keeping them,” said VA Secretary Denis McDonough. “We are taking a new approach to presumptives that takes all available science into account, with one goal in mind: getting today’s veterans — and vets in the decades ahead — the benefits they deserve as fast as possible.”

The VA will begin processing disability compensation claims for veterans who served any amount of time in the Southwest Asia theater of operations beginning Aug. 2, 1990, to the present, or Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, Syria or Djibouti beginning Sept. 19, 2001, to the present.

Grant allows Vets4Vets to help local veterans 

Vets4Vets of Archuleta County has received a grant from the Colorado Department of Military and Veteran Affairs. This financial grant is to support veterans in our community through the following assistance: housing, utilities, mental health counseling, dental services, travel assistance, automobile repairs, gas and food cards, and emergency veteran assistance. 

Contact Vets4Vets at https://vets4vetspsco.org/ or dharps@gmail.com.

Contact information

Veterans: Thank you for your service. Welcome home.

For further information on VA benefits, please call or stop by the Archuleta County Veterans Service Office (VSO), located at the Pagosa Springs Senior Center in the Ross Aragon Community Center on Hot Springs Boulevard.

The office: (970) 264-4013, fax number: (970) 264-4014, and email is raytaylor@archuletacounty.org. Bring your DD Form 214 (discharge) for applications to VA programs or benefits for which the veteran may be entitled to enroll, and for filing in the Archuleta County VSO. Always leave a message and phone number to contact you.

The following veterans groups meet in Pagosa Springs:

• American Legion Post 108: second Wednesday of the month at 6 p.m., 287 Hermosa St.

• Veterans for Veterans: every Tuesday at 10 a.m., Tennyson Building Event Center, 197 Navajo Trail Drive, on all but the first Tuesday. Breakfast meeting on the first Tuesday of the month at 9 a.m. Contact (970) 880-8387 for more details.

• Combat Veterans PTSD Group: every other Tuesday at noon, Community United Methodist Church, Lewis Street. Contact Gary Hanneman at (970) 946-2540.

• Women’s Group of Spouses of Veterans: first and third Wednesdays at 5:30 p.m., Dr. Carter’s office; contact Charlotte at (970) 903-9690.

Important information

• Vets4Vets: (970) 880-VETS, www.Vets4VetsPSCO.org.

• Durango VA Outpatient Clinic: (970) 247-2214.

• Farmington VA Center: (505) 326-4383.

• VAMC Albuquerque, N.M.: (800) 465-8262.

• VA Health Care Emergency Notification: (844) 724-7842.

The Veterans Crisis Line offers free, confidential support to veterans in crisis, as well as their family and friends 24/7/365. Call (800) 273-8255, chat online or text 838255.