Establishing Service-Connection

Posted on
May 13, 2021

As we have discussed earlier in this chapter, many health conditions are connected to a veteran’s military service. You can play an important role in helping your patients or clients access the benefits for which they may be qualified. The table below provides guidance for establishing service connection and clarifies why it is important for you to know as much about a veteran’s military history, the jobs they performed, their deployments and other factors that can specify that a condition is presumptive.


There are four ways to establish that a condition is service connected. It was/is any of the following:

  1. Incurred during military service.
  2. An aggravation of a condition that existed prior to entering the military.
  3. A secondary condition resulting from a service-connected outcome. (For example, amputation of a leg above the ankle may result in heart disease later.)
  4. Presumptive: a condition that is presumed to result from service, service during a particular war, or deployment in a specific location. (For example, a veteran who served in Vietnam between Jan. 9, 1962 and May 7, 1975 is presumed to have been exposed to Agent Orange and other herbicides, which are known to be associated with a host of illnesses including Parkinson’s disease, diabetes, Non-Hodgkins lymphoma, and other maladies)

Recommended viewing:
Swords to Plowshares developed curriculum in partnership with CalVet for primary care providers on veteran culture and possible physical health needs of veterans. You can view the training here:

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Understand Your Role in Getting Veterans Connected to the VA

Veterans may require care and recognition for service-related conditions beyond what is provided outside of the VA. Find out how to get veterans connected to VA healthcare and benefits.

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