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Court Wins

CCK Helps Fort McClellan Veteran Establish Service Connection After Duty to Assist Error

April Donahower

March 31, 2022

Updated: November 20, 2023


Facts of the Case

The Veteran served in the Army from 1983 to 1986.  In February 2017, CCK helped the Veteran file a claim for service connection for Type II diabetes, peripheral neuropathy, and pancreatitis.

VA issued a Rating Decision denying service connection for all the conditions.  The Veteran filed a Notice of Disagreement, appealing the decision.

VA once again denied the claim in a Statement of the Case, leading CCK to file a VA9 appeal.  In the appeal, CCK noted that the veteran was exposed to toxins, including herbicide agents (e.g., Agent Orange), while stationed at Fort McClellan, an Army Chemical School in Alabama which was notorious for testing herbicide agents and other chemicals for military use.  CCK argued that because the Veteran served at Fort McClellan, VA should concede that herbicide exposure “at least as likely as not” occurred.

The case then moved to the Board of Veterans’ Appeals.  One year later, in April 2019, the Board remanded the claim back to VA.

CCK Helps the Veteran Establish Service Connection Based on Herbicide Exposure

VA issued a Supplemental Statement of the Case in September 2020 once again denying the Veteran’s claim.  In response, CCK filed a Higher-Level Review to appeal the decision.

In February 2021, VA issued a deferred decision.  Finally, in December 2021, VA granted service connection for diabetes at 20 percent, peripheral neuropathy at 20 percent, and DIC benefits for the Veteran’s spouse.

In its decision, VA acknowledged that it had made several duty to assist errors regarding the Veteran’s Higher-Level Review.  After a lengthy appeal process, the Veteran was finally able to receive the benefits they deserved.

About the Author

Bio photo of April Donahower

April joined Chisholm Chisholm & Kilpatrick in August of 2016 as an Associate Attorney. She currently serves as the Appellate Supervisor in our Veterans Law practice. April’s practice focuses on representing disabled veterans before the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims.

See more about April