Medically Unexplained Chronic Multisymptom Illnesses
A prominent condition affecting Gulf War Veterans is a cluster of medically unexplained

chronic symptoms that can include fatigue, headaches, joint pain, indigestion, insomnia, dizziness, respiratory disorders, and memory problems.
VA does not use the term “Gulf War Syndrome” when referring to “medically

unexplained chronic multisymptom illnesses” reported by Gulf War Veterans.

Symptoms vary widely and therefore, do not meet the definition of a syndrome.

A syndrome is a group of symptoms that usually occur together and characterize a

certain disease or abnormal condition. That is why VA uses the term “medically

unexplained chronic multisymptom illnesses” instead of “Gulf War Syndrome.”

Gulf War Veterans who meet the criteria below do not need to prove a connection

between their military service and medically unexplained chronic multisymptom

illnesses in order to receive VA disability compensation.
VA presumes certain chronic, unexplained symptoms existing for 6 months or more are

related to Gulf War service without regard to cause. These "presumptive" illnesses

must have appeared during active duty in the Southwest Asia theater of military operations or by

December 31, 2016, and be at least 10 percent disabling.

These illnesses include:


Chronic fatigue syndrome, a condition of long-term and severe fatigue that is

not relieved by rest and is not directly caused by other conditions. 


Fibromyalgia, a condition characterized by widespread muscle pain. Other symptoms may

include insomnia, morning stiffness, headache, and memory problems.

Functional gastrointestinal disorders, a group of conditions marked by chronic or

recurrent symptoms related to any part of the gastrointestinal tract. Functional condition

refers to an abnormal function of an organ, without a structural alteration in the tissues.

Examples include irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), functional

dyspepsia, and functional abdominal pain syndrome.


Undiagnosed illnesses with symptoms that may include but are not limited to:

abnormal weight loss, fatigue, cardiovascular disease, muscle and joint pain,

headache, menstrual disorders, neurological and psychological problems,

skin conditions, respiratory disorders, and sleep disturbances.
VA’s final rule specifying that functional gastrointestinal disorders

are covered as presumptive illnesses took effect on August 15, 2011.


Presumptive Veterans Affairs

Disability Conditions & Ratings


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Gulf War Presumptions  Gulf War Service
For VA benefit purposes, Gulf War service is active military duty in any of the following areas in the Southwest Asia theater of military operations any time during the first Gulf War starting August 2, 1990 through the current conflict in Iraq.  

This includes Veterans who served in Operation Iraqi Freedom (2003-2010) and Operation New Dawn (2010 and continuing).

Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, The neutral zone between Iraq and Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar, The United Arab Emirates, Oman, Gulf of Aden, Gulf of Oman, Waters of the Persian Gulf, the Arabian Sea, and the Red Sea & the airspace above these locations.



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Presumptive Conditions

A "condition", in the language of the VA, is any disease, illness or injury that occurs during

active duty military service. To be service connected and eligible for a disability

compensation rating, the condition must be caused or contributed to by an event that

occurred during service. If the condition existed prior to service, it must be shown to

have been aggravated (made worse) by military service.

To achieve a disability compensation rating, the veteran must prove that he or she had

appropriate military service, that an event that caused the claimed condition occurred

and that a medically diagnosed condition that is disabling exists today.

The regulations that govern presumptive conditions only eliminate the requirement to

prove that an event caused the condition. For example, a Vietnam veteran does not have

to prove that agent orange caused the diabetes he has today. It is presumed that he was

exposed to agent orange and also that agent orange is at the root of the diabetes.

While agent orange and the Vietnam veteran are the best known of all presumptive conditions

and ratings, atomic veterans, certain Korean veterans and other veterans may also be

eligible for presumptive ratings of certain conditions.

The regulations are complex. Some veterans who have a Vietnam Service Medal aren't

eligible for presumptive ratings because they didn't set their boots on the soil of the country

of Vietnam. Many Korean veterans don't realize that they may be eligible for service

connections due to exposure to the herbicide agent orange.

If you believe that you may be eligible for any presumptive condition and rating, the best way

to find out is to file a VA disability claim. The process of adjudication is the only sure way to know.