Mrs. Sheree Evans with her late husband, Edward.
Sheree had fought for service connection for the cause of her husband’s death for almost eight years, based on a promise that she had made to him before his death.
It is notoriously difficult for veterans to get their disabilities connected to their military service - even when the connection is apparent. In this unique case, the Department of Veterans Affairs was made to concede a very important connection and gave justice to a struggling widow.
Mrs. Sheree Evans is the surviving spouse of Vietnam Veteran, Edward T. Evans, who passed away from Glioblastoma Multiforme (GM), or more commonly known as brain cancer, in March of 2003. Since this time, Sheree has fought for widow’s benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) for her husband’s cause of death as a result of Agent Orange exposure (Board of Veterans' Appeals, Docket No. 05-00 201 / U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims, Vet. App. No. 06-2190). While Mr. Evans was presumed to have been exposed to Agent Orange during his service in the Vietnam War, one of the most challenging obstacles for Sheree was showing that his exposure to Agent Orange caused the development of brain cancer. VA had consistently maintained that brain cancer is not on their list of Agent Orange-related disabilities, and, as a result, that there is no medical link for the development of this specific cancer to Agent Orange Exposure.
Sheree’s long struggle against VA took her to the Board of Veterans’ Appeals, the highest level of the Veterans Administration’s appeals process. Once she had been denied there, Sheree appealed her case to the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims. There she was successful in getting the final decision by VA vacated because VA had used an independent medical opinion as evidence, which was merely grounded in the lack of GM being on the Agent Orange Presumptive list as the basis for denying a relationship. VA then ordered another medical opinion which determined that there was no research into the relationship between GM and Agent Orange. Sheree countered with a medical assessment which argued that there was an abundance of research into the relationship between GM and Agent Orange. In a recent decision, the Board of Veterans' Appeals decided that the evidence in favor and against were in equal weight and applied the benefit of the doubt rule and on January 26th, 2011 granted Sheree’s claim. While this is not a precedential decision, VA did admit a link between the two. Time will tell what the outcome of this will amount to, but GM may very well come to be added to the Agent Orange presumptive list.
READ MORE: http://www.prweb.com/releases/2011/02/prweb5080394.htm