For Your Benefit
For and about Hawaii's military

See also: In The Military

Spinal cord injuries
bring pay for disability

Question: I suffered a spinal cord injury while on active duty. Can the Department of Veterans Affairs help me with this type of injury?

Answer: Yes. Currently the VA pays disability compensation to about 25,000 veterans for service-related disabilities in which the spinal column or nearby structures are affected.

About 60 percent of veterans with spinal cord injuries are eligible not only for health care but also for monetary or other benefits because they have a service-connected disability, meaning it occurred or worsened during military service.

In the other cases, their injuries are not related to their military service, though these veterans still can receive VA medical care. Veterans rated by VA as 100 percent disabled may receive additional compensation if their injuries resulted in losing use of hands or feet, or in other disabilities. Their disability rating may include other service-connected disabilities not related to their spinal injury.

Many veterans with service-connected disabilities are also entitled to vocational counseling, grants for adapted housing and automobiles, a clothing allowance and payment for home and attendant care. VA provides supplies, preventive health care and education for veterans with spinal cord injuries and also maintains their medical equipment.

Contact the VA at 433-1000 to start the disability claim process.

Q: I am suffering from Diabetes Type II and am a Vietnam veteran. I have the term presumptive condition. What does that mean?

A: Normally a veteran submitting a claim for disability compensation must show proof of the relationship between service and the condition being claimed.

Under the presumption of service connection, VA presumes the service-connected relationship exists based on other qualifying criteria, such as dates and location of service. The condition being claimed, in this case, is associated with your possible exposure to Agent Orange.

Honorably discharged veterans who served in Vietnam from Jan. 9, 1962, through May 7, 1975, and have adult onset Diabetes Type II will be affected. Nine forms of cancer have been found to have been associated with exposure to herbicides and therefore qualify as presumptive conditions based on service in Vietnam.

For further information, contact the VA at 433-0600.

If you have questions about your benefits as a veteran,
call Fred Ballard at the Veterans Affairs at 433-0049
or visit the VA Web site at
or the Star-Bulletin at 529-4747.

Gregg K. Kakesako, who covers military affairs for the Star-Bulletin,
can be reached by phone at 294-4075
or by e-mail at


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