In order for the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to award service-connection for a disability, the Veteran must establish these three elements:
- A current chronic physical or mental condition;
- An event or stressor that occurred during Active Duty service; and
- A link (also known as a ‘nexus’) that connects the chronic condition to the in-service event.
Current Chronic Physical or Mental Condition
If a Veteran is suffering from a condition (or conditions) that continue to ail him/her post service, and is considered chronic (or ongoing in nature), these condition(s) may be related to his/her time in service. These condition(s) may include physical ailments, such as: Degenerative Disc Disease (DDD); hypertension (high blood pressure); and osteoarthritis; and diagnosed mental health conditions, such as: Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI); Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD); and General Anxiety Disorder.
In-Service Event or Stressor During Active Duty
If a Veteran suffered an injury or illness while on Active Duty, this injury or illness may be compensated by the VA as a service-connected disability. Please note that service-connection refers to the injury or illness being experienced while on Active Duty. This means that for Reserve components, or National Guard, the only way to establish service-connection is during any time the Veteran was activated or ordered to Active Duty for a specific time period, be it for training or recall purposes. Some aspects of service-connection may require an eligible period of service, such as a specific length of time during a specific period of time (i.e. 90-days of total Active Duty service with at least one full day during a war-time period). This may vary from benefit to benefit sought by VA.