A Silent Enemy: Arthritis and Its Effect on Veterans
In 2015, the Arthritis Foundation conducted a detailed study to research the issue of arthritis and military veterans. The Foundation’s study revealed that the issue of arthritis is particularly serious in veterans. The study found that one in three veterans suffers from arthritis, while only one in five civilians without military service suffer from the disease. Traumatic injury and overuse commonly occur during active duty. A CDC study for years 2011-2013 also found:
•· More common among veterans than non-veterans overall.
•· Higher in men (35%) than women (31%).
•· More widespread in middle-aged adults (45-64 years) (36%) compared to young adults (18-44 years) (13%).
•· Highest among veterans who are significantly overweight.
Despite the astounding results of the Arthritis Foundation’s study, they were surprised to find that the Department of Defense (DOD) does not have a dedicated fund for arthritis research and programs. In 2016, the Arthritis Foundation published a summary of their study to urge the Department of Defense to establish a $20 million dedicated fund for arthritis research and programs for veterans. So far, forty-five members of Congress have signed a letter supporting the establishment of such a fund. Additionally, the House Armed Service Committee has called for a briefing on the issue of osteoarthritis in the military and recommendations for how to address the issue. To date, no further action has developed, but the issue of a dedicated fund for arthritis research and programs is currently being discussed in Congress.
There are community programs to help veterans and other adults with arthritis be healthier and live with less pain. Veterans can:
•· Learn about your arthritis! Classes, maybe at a local YMCA, park, or community center, can teach veterans how to feel their best.
•· Go to physical activity classes that have been shown to reduce pain and disability related to arthritis, and improve movement and mood.
•· Join self-management education classes designed to teach people with arthritis and other chronic conditions how to control their symptoms and how health problems affect their lives. Classes are led by people who have experience living with arthritis.
It is possible to receive a service-connected disability rating if you suffer from arthritis. To establish a VA claim for arthritis, you must submit current medical evidence, either in the form of a doctor’s or hospital report, showing that you have this disability. If you do not have a current medical report, the VA will send you a release form (VA Form 21-4142). On the form you should list your doctor’s name and address, and then return the form to the VA. The VA will obtain the necessary medical report(s). Note: Your failure to return the form to the VA relieves the VA of any obligation to secure your private medical records.
For any questions regarding your VA disability claim or how to file a VA disability claim, call the experienced veteran’s disability attorneys at Gardberg & Kemmerly, P.C. Gardberg and Kemmerly, P.C. serve veterans the United States from our office in Mobile, Alabama. Contact us today at 251-343-1111 for a free case evaluation.