About 25 percent of veterans in the United States have diabetes and also have VA (Veterans Administration) benefits. There are many causes of diabetes, ranging from age to lifestyle to possible herbicide exposure during service in the military. Find out more about the VA benefits that could be available for those with diabetes.

Basic Info about Veterans with Diabetes

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates around 8 percent of the population has diabetes. About one in four persons do not realize they have the condition. Similarly, almost one in four veterans getting care from the VA has diabetes. Some of the reasons why veterans may have diabetes include advanced age, genetics, becoming more inactive, being overweight or obese, and possible exposure to herbicides during their time of military service.

Losing Weight Can Help Veterans with Diabetes

Shedding just five percent of your body weight can help you maintain better blood sugar control and reduce the risk of diabetes. Recent studies indicated a weight loss and exercise program is an effective way to combat diabetes in people who are under the age of 60. All veterans who are obese or overweight can participate in the VA MOVE! – Weight Management Program. This program helps veterans create plans that help them lose weight through physical activity, a balanced diet, and lifestyle changes. The veteran completes a questionnaire to have the program tailored to his or her needs. A variety of formats are available, including telephone care and group sessions. TeleMOVE is a new home messaging program that offers daily support via phone, including a scale interface to weigh in each week. The VA also can help those who have diabetes or at risk to manage conditions such as high cholesterol and hypertension. Screenings can be scheduled to check for related eye, kidney, and foot conditions.

Diabetes and Herbicide Exposure

Veterans who were exposed to Agent Orange or other herbicides during their service in Vietnam do not have to prove a service-connected relationship to be eligible to get VA benefits and disability compensation. Type 2 diabetes is possibly associated with exposure to Agent Orange. This applies to those who have diabetes who served in Vietnam, anytime during January 9, 1962, through May 7, 1975. Those who served in areas sprayed with Agent Orange may include veterans in Vietnam or the Korean demilitarized zone and could be eligible to get a free Agent Orange Registry health exam.

Applying for Disability or Death VA Benefits

Medical records are used to determine that the veteran has diabetes to grant disability compensation. These records may include a dated diagnostic test, treatments rendered, diabetic episodes or reactions and any complications associated with diabetes. These may include vision problems, cardiovascular issues and neurology issues. Veterans who were previously denied a service-connected disability or diabetes might be eligible for retroactive awards of VA benefits and should contact their local VA office. Those whose condition has worsened since their last VA rating can also contact the local office to file a claim for reevaluation. Additionally, spouses, parents and/or children of in-country Vietnam veterans who believe the death was caused by diabetes might be eligible for Parents’ DIC or Dependents and Indemnity Compensation (DIC). Applications can be completed online or at VA regional office with the help of VA employee.

Changing VA Health Care

Large VA hospitals are becoming less prevalent as community VA clinics open up around the country. This puts basic VA health care closer to the places where veterans live. The VA currently provides health benefits to about 1.45 million veterans. Each year, the VA spends about one and a-half billion dollars to take care of veterans with diabetes, which includes the cost of prescription medications. The VA now has clinical practice guidelines that include exercise, medication, and diet as well as patient education. The individual A1C target is defined as between 7 and 9. Unlike the VA of yesterday, modern therapies are available, such as DDP and GLP therapies. People with diabetes can also help by taking control of their customized diabetes management plans. This may include regularly testing their blood glucose levels at home using blood glucose test strips. Extreme highs or lows should be reported to the VA as soon as possible.

Many veterans quality for VA benefits for diabetes and other related health conditions but may not know it. Contact your VA regional office today to find out what benefits you might qualify for. The modern VA clinics provide cutting-edge care for your optimum well-being.