Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Is Your MS service-connected?

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 Learn how the Nexus letter and connection with a VA service officer can help you.  

The National MS Society has long been aware that there are veterans living with MS who are not receiving VA benefits because they were diagnosed post seven years of discharge. Today we bring the experiences of Christopher and Aileen Jones and their use of a VA service officer and the Nexus letter to showcase how important these two things are to helping veterans with MS attain their VA benefits.

Christopher Jones was first diagnosed with MS in 1995, 10 years after he was discharged from service in Korea and 3 years past the 7 year window for processing VA claims for a presumptive condition. Discouraged, Christopher did not file a claim until a year later, after his symptoms progressed. In contacting his local VA, Chris met Pam, a RN and a member of the Society’s Veteran’s Action Leadership Team (VALT). Through Pam, Chris was put in contact with a VA service officer who was able to provide further assistance and expedition of the claim’s process.

A friend who served alongside Chris during his military service wrote a Nexus letter on his behalf documenting observance of Chris’s symptoms.  Chris’s wife and caregiver, Aileen, shared that “connecting with Bill (the VA service officer) and providing a Nexus letter in addition to the necessary paperwork were essential in having Christopher’s MS service connected.” In March of 2010, the Jones’s finally received notice approving Christopher’s claim for MS service-connection and awarding benefits retroactive for the initial claim filing for coverage of Christopher’s medications, treatment, and essential equipment.

If you are a veteran living with MS and believe your MS symptoms may be service-connected contact your local VA and register with the National MS Society (1-800 FIGHT MS). The Veterans Action Leadership Team (VALT) is a group of veteran volunteers who work collaboratively to raise awareness of multiple sclerosis and provide further assistance and resources for veterans living with MS. 
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