A few weeks ago, a shocking Department of Veterans’ Affairs (“VA”) pilot study revealed that 1 in 4 Vietnam veterans have, at some point, harbored Opisthorchis Verrini, a bile-duct cancer causing parasite which many veterans believe they ingested while serving in Vietnam.
Now, in light of the undeniable evidence found in the pilot study, the VA plans to do what it should have done a long time ago: conduct a full-length study which may prove once and for all that bile-duct cancer in Vietnam veterans is a service-connected disability.
The Study Will Determine if Vietnam Veterans are More Likely than Other Groups to be Affected by Bile-Duct Cancer
When it comes to claiming disability benefits from the VA, a veteran must show: 1) that he or she has a disability; and 2) that her or his disability is the result of “a disease or injury incurred or aggravated during active military service” (“service connection”). Sometimes, when the VA conducts a study which proves that a certain condition occurs more frequently in veterans who served in particular circumstances than in other groups, the VA will label a disability as “presumptive,” meaning the veteran does not have to prove service connection.
Vietnam veterans with bile-duct cancer have largely struggled to win the benefits they deserve because they unable to prove service connection. If the upcoming study, which will determine whether Vietnam veterans are more likely than other groups to be affected by bile-duct cancer, reveals that Vietnam veterans are indeed more frequently affected, it may be exactly what the VA needs to finally label bile-duct cancer in Vietnam veterans a presumptive disability. That would be great news for Vietnam veterans and their families.
The Results of the Study Will Be Available in Two Years
Sadly, the study will take two years to produce results. For many veterans affected by bile-duct cancer, two years is far too long to wait, as bile-duct cancer is aggressive and can kill within months of its diagnosis.Therefore, we recommend that all Vietnam veterans take action immediately.
Steps You Can Take Right Away
If you are a veteran and you believe you may have been exposed to the Opisthorchis Verrini parasite, there are two steps you should take right away.
First, insist that your doctor screen you for the parasite and for bile-duct cancer. While the VA claims that screening is unnecessary for those without symptoms, experts have made it clear that becoming aware of the parasite early is key to effective treatment. Therefore, even if you do not have any symptoms, it is important to making screening a priority.
Second, if you screen positive, hire an experienced Veterans’ Law attorney right away. We know exactly what it takes to prove service connection and, with 20 years of experience working with veterans, we can assure you that we will do everything possible to keep the VA from sidestepping its responsibility to you and your family. Contact us today at (877) 629-1712 or online.