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Veterans Affairs proposes expansion of benefits

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The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has proposed a plan to expand disability coverage for veterans to include five diagnosable illnesses linked to service-connected traumatic brain injury.

The VA will publish the proposed rule to the Federal Register. The rule will revise the VA's standing adjudication regulation to consider five diagnosable illnesses as secondary to service-connected traumatic brain injury, or TBI. The five illnesses that would be covered under the new rule are Parkinsonism, unprovoked seizures, types of dementia, depression and diseases resulting from hypothalamo-pituitary changes. Veterans with TBI would be eligible for benefits including the five related illnesses under the new rule.

Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., applauded the move.

"When veterans return home from service, we owe them not only our gratitude, but also the best possible care for their wounds, including those that can't be seen," Rockefeller said in a statement. "Traumatic brain injury affects far too many service members and their families, and giving veterans access to specialized treatment is imperative. This proposed change to the VA's regulations will give more veterans access to the care they earned through their service to our nation."