M21-1, Part IIIFebruary 25, 2005
(2) If the response indicates that no records may be released because they are classified or if the response is inadequate, contact the Compensation and Pension Service, Policy Staff (211), at (202) 273-7210.
e. Questions. Any questions on POW issues may be directed to VA Central Office, Veterans Services Staff (216B).
5.17 DEVELOPMENT OF CLAIMS BASED ON UNDIAGNOSED ILLNESSES OF GULF WAR
a. General. When a claim is received from a Gulf War veteran alleging either a disability resulting
from exposure to environmental hazards or an undiagnosed illness (e.g., fatigue, headache, muscle aches, memory loss or other conditions listed in 38 CFR 3.317(b)), the regional office should put a flash on the outside of the claims folder as shown in exhibit B.1. A checklist shown in exhibit B.2 is designed to be completed as each step in the development process is accomplished, to ensure that all needed development is completed.
b. Development. Ensure that the development letter in exhibit B.3 has been sent to the claimant and that a copy of the letter is in the claims file, or that an equivalent request has been made by telephone, fax, etc., for any new claim received. The regional office will not make a decision on these claims unless the development letter or evidence of an equivalent request by another method is of record.
(1) The letter issued as an attachment to All-Station Letter 96-73 is still acceptable as an initial
development letter, if it is already of record. However, any follow-up development letter that may be needed requires inclusion of the exact wording of paragraph 1 in exhibit B.4.
(2) Document development by telephone by means of VA Form 119. See paragraph 11.18.
(3) If the veteran has a power of attorney, a copy of the VA Form 119 will be sent to the veteran’s
representative in the same manner as copies of development letters.
c. Service Department Records. In addition to service medical records, request the following
records whenever possible.
(1) If the veteran furnishes information on the application about specific inpatient treatment, request clinical records simultaneously with the service medical records. In addition, request the dates of service and confirm active duty dates in the Southwest Asia theater of operations during the Gulf War (beginning
August 2, 1990) if this information is not already established by the evidence of record.
(2) If confirmation of Southwest Asia theater duty is not received following usual service department
requests and the veteran is—or was at the time of service in Southwest Asia—a member of a Reserve or National Guard unit, call the veteran’s Reserve or National Guard unit to ask for this information. Document the call.
d. Types of Evidence.
(1) Medical Evidence. Request reports for all private and VA medical treatment that is indicated by the veteran, both during and after service. This includes statements from doctors, hospitals, laboratories, medical facilities, mental health clinics, X-rays, physical therapy records, etc.