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| Michael P. Ehline

Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in Veterans – All You Need to Know

If your military service has resulted in non Hodgkin’s lymphoma, you are eligible for VA health benefits and compensation. How much compensation you get depends on the severity of your condition. At the same time, you could get full compensation despite getting a low disability rating from VA if your condition is preventing you from working.

There are many other things you need to know about VA disability benefits for non Hodgkin’s lymphoma that will come later as you continue to read. Let’s start with a basic understanding of the condition and then get into the details of disability benefits, the presumptive service connection of this disease, and how veterans got it.

Understanding Non Hodgkin’s Lymphoma

Your body has a lymphatic system that supplements your blood circulatory system through lymphatic drainage. B-Cells and T-Cells are the main components of this system. Both these cells are called lymphocytes and their function in the body is to ward off infections, illnesses, and diseases due to germs, virus, and bacteria.

In other words, they strengthen your immune system. However, when the production of these cells becomes abnormal in the body, it results in a condition called non Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.

How It Affects Your Body’s Immune System

What happens is that your body starts producing too many of these cells, resulting in the blockade of your lymph nodes. This causes the swelling of lymph nodes and makes your body vulnerable to germ, bacterial, and viral attacks.

How much this disruption affects your body depends on the classification of your condition. The indolent type progresses very slowly whereas aggressive takes its toll quite quickly.

Also, it should be mentioned here that B-cell lymphoma cancer is much more common than the T-cell lymphoma. Once diagnosed, doctors would use radiation therapy or chemotherapy to treat your condition and get your T cells and B cells to return to their normal function again.

Symptoms of Non Hodgkin’s Lymphoma

When the abnormal cells start collecting in your nodes and make your body’s immune system weak, you may experience the following symptoms.

  • You start losing weight without any evident cause
  • You feel tired all the time
  • You get fevers frequently
  • Your stomach swells up or hurts
  • Lymph nodes in your neck, groin, and armpits become big
  • You can’t breathe normally or cough too often

Some people also report that their skin becomes itchy when their lymphatic system starts to act abnormally.

What Is Service Related Non Hodgkin’s Lymphoma

Of course, this lymphoma is not different from what other people get but it’s the cause of the condition that needs attention here. Veterans are exposed to conditions that ordinary people usually don’t.

Agent Orange Exposure

Exposure to agent orange is considered the biggest cause of Non Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in veterans. Agent orange was frequently used in various military operations in the Vietnam War.

The herbicides were poured from the sky to kill vegetation and locate enemies hiding inside. However, this pouring of the herbicide affected the US army soldiers more as they inhaled it and even ingested it by using the same containers for storing water that were used for keeping the herbicides in them.

The main cause of the condition was a dioxin called TCDD. This toxin was dangerous and used by the military at quantities much higher than recommended by the manufacturers of the herbicides.

Burn Pit Exposure

Another reason for Non Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in veterans is their exposure to burn pits. Burn pits were large areas where the military dumped unused weapons, medical waste, human waste, plastics, rubber, ammunition, and other things and burned them.

The would pour fuel on all these materials and burn them. The win carried the toxic smoke from burn pits to them and they breathed in it for days. The toxic burn pit exposure is also linked with the occurrence of Non Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in veterans.

VA Disability Benefits for Non Hodgkin’s Lymphoma

If you served in Vietnam War era or in any of the wars post 9/11, especially in Afghanistan and Iraq, you may be eligible for VA disability benefits. The most important thing is that you can receive disability compensation on presumptive service connection basis.

Presumptive Service Connection

Let’s explain what it means when you have a presumptive condition. A presumptive service connection means that you will not have to prove to Veterans Affairs that your condition was caused due to your active duty in the military at a certain site.

Instead, if you served in the military and were a part of a military mission that exposed you to agent orange or burn pits, you will get VA benefits for Non Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.

In simple words, obtaining VA benefits with a presumptive condition is relatively easier than those trying to prove direct service connection for a non-presumptive condition.

VA Rating for Non Hodgkin’s Lymphoma

Code 7715 is what Veterans Affairs uses to give your condition a rating. It is important to know that if you are in the treatment phase when you apply for VA benefits, you will automatically get a rating of 100 for your Non Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.

In addition to that, if you can prove through medical records that your Non Hodgkin’s Lymphoma is still active, you can get maximum disability compensation.

For 6 months after the first rating, you will get VA disability benefits based on the maximum rating. However, once the treatment has been completed, a mandatory VA examination will be conducted to reevaluate the rating.

You can always get the help of veterans disability attorneys at this point to make sure you get the VA disability you deserve.

Survivor Benefits from VA

If you are the dependent parent, child, or spouse of a veteran exposed to agent orange, you may get VA disability benefits too. You can get these benefits in two ways.

  • You will get a monthly compensation just like the veterans do.
  • You will get healthcare benefits under the CHAMPVA program.

The surviving spouses, children, and parents of veterans who got Non Hodgkin’s Lymphoma due to agent orange exposure can either get health care under CHAMPUS or CHAMPVA.

VA Benefits for TDIU

Non Hodgkin’s Lymphoma isn’t just a condition causing painless and swollen lymph nodes and minor chest pain. If it has caused disability and prevented you from working, you could get maximum compensation on the basis of Total Disability based on Individual Unemployability.

TDIU can override your otherwise appropriate disability rating from VA. This means you will get maximum benefits even if your rating isn’t 100 from Veterans Affairs.

Paul Ehline Annual Ride for Veterans

Michael Ehline is out every year for veterans trying to prove service connection and suffering from conditions that resulted from agent orange exposure. He arranged an annual ride in his father’s name because his father, Paul Ehline USMC Retd., passed away due to cancer.

It could have been agent orange exposure because Paul ‘chose’ to fight in Vietnam to be with his brothers. Agent orange took its toll and Paul had to live with cancer in the later years of his life.

Through this ride, Michael wants to help veterans by getting people to donate, spreading awareness among general public, and inspiring other veterans to get compensation for cancers and conditions resulting from their service connection.

Ehline Ride Fights for More

In addition to talking about veterans and their rights, Michael is primarily serving general public with their motorcycle accident and personal injury cases through his personal injury law firm. In his capacity, he is spearheading congress to get legislation passed for West Coast Vets.

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