Stan was my SEAL training classmate. He died in 2009, having earned the rank of CAPT (SEAL). He had traveled the world and fought in multiple conflicts, including the Middle East wars. He died of a universally fatal Glioblastoma brain tumor. He left his widow and children without the service-connected benefits they deserved because, in 2009, Glioblastoma was not recognized as “service-connected.”
The Pact Act passed in 2022 and changed that. Glioblastoma (and all brain tumors) were declared“presumptive” service-connected. Presumptive, in this case, means that no proof is required to establish that this medical condition was caused by military service. They only need to note that they served in the Middle East. Exposure to burn pits is suspected as a cause of the numerous conditions now covered as a result of the Pact Act. Investigations are ongoing into other causes related to service, such as radiation exposure from communication devices worn on the heads for prolonged periods. I knew immediately that Stan’s widow was entitled to Dependent Indemnity Compensation (DIC)
survivor benefits. I called her and explained this. She was surprised and hopeful. She was caring for her children and grandchildren without a husband or his retirement pay that ended with his death, and this life presented challenges.
All we needed was proof that he had served in the Middle East. She remembered his deployment to Kuwait and letters home from there, but those letters were long gone, as were his 13-year-old military records. She remembered that Stan had received a letter from the VA denying his service connection past claim for Glioblastoma and that it said they would immediately reach back out if it were later declared as service-connected. They had not yet reached out as they were undoubtedly overwhelmed by the 500,000 new claims submitted since the Act passed into law. So, the fight for her long-overdue benefits from a grateful nation began. We sent for his military records, which took months.
They arrived by mail but did not contain the proof we needed. We contacted a Navy SEAL Association Veteran Service Officer who immediately filed the VA “Intent to File” form. He joined us in the battle. This form established a date for the start of new benefits, but our hope was that the benefits would be appropriately awarded retroactively to 2009. I am writing this today because a very grateful wife and friend let me know that the VA has approved her claim, backdated to 2009 – the date of the first denied filing. They reported that they were sending her a tax-free check for $212,199. In addition, she will receive $1562.74 a month for the rest of her life.
The incidence of brain tumors in military special operation force (SOF) communities is way higher than found in the civilian population. There have been lots more deaths caused by Glioblastoma and other types of brain tumors than this reported one. Many more widows out there do not know they are entitled to well-deserved benefits from a grateful nation. This article begins a concerted effort to find them and thank them for their spouse’s service.
If you know someone that needs this nation’s gratitude, let us help.
Contact SOFREP at [email protected] so we can connect them with Dr. Adams and their overdue help.
There are on this article.
You must become a subscriber or login to view or post comments on this article.