Paratroopers are the American heroes that fall from the skies to commence combat operations, rescue other military personnel, and carry out other key objectives during our nation’s military campaigns. Despite their importance, many paratroopers cannot acquire the VA disability benefits they deserve after developing one or more serious conditions because of their service and activities.
Being a paratrooper involves boldly jumping from an aircraft, then landing roughly on your feet or body, even with the assistance of a parachute. Although tactically important, paratroopers expose their bodies to several major stressors and potential injuries.
By the time they leave active service, and even over several years afterward, it’s not uncommon for paratroopers to develop certain disabilities they may require benefits to help treat or pay for. Today, let’s break down the most common disabilities for paratroopers.
Paratroopers may develop feet disabilities or long-term injuries due to landing roughly after leaping from a plane. Feet disabilities can include:
Feet disabilities can be inconvenient and uncomfortable for years to come. We all need to walk, but paratrooper Veterans who develop feet conditions or injuries may be unable to walk comfortably or walk at all due to their military activities.
When a paratrooper lands on the ground, their spine often takes the brunt of the shock damage, even if they land perfectly. This can lead to neck disabilities like neck cricks, breaks, sprains, and even spinal or nervous system damage.
Neck disabilities, if left unchecked or if they worsen, could also lead to long-term and ancillary conditions or problems like:
For similar reasons, many paratrooper Veterans may develop back disabilities because of the burden of landing roughly on the ground while carrying heavy survival or combat equipment. Many troopers in the Air Force, Marines, and other branches carry 70 pounds or more of equipment into combat zones.
When they land after leaping from aircraft, all that weight is placed on their backs and spinal cords. This can, over time, lead to the development of back disabilities, injuries, paralysis, or reduced movement capabilities.
Back disabilities can be debilitating and uncomfortable and may prevent a Veteran from sitting down or sleeping comfortably. In addition, back disabilities are commonly associated with or related to neck disabilities, as both the neck and the back include the spinal cord.
Furthermore, many of these disabilities may only be treated or cured through expensive surgeries or treatments. Even after acquiring employment upon leaving the service, many Veterans may have difficulty paying for what they need to thrive or deal with their conditions long-term.
While the above disabilities may be common for former paratroopers, this is far from an exhaustive list. Like other military Veterans, paratroopers may experience other disabilities or chronic conditions directly resulting from their military service. These conditions include but are not limited to:
While it may be difficult to acquire compensation for specific injuries, a knowledgeable Veterans law office may be able to help you acquire compensation for those conditions or injuries by maximizing your disability rating and other areas.
The bottom line: you should never give up when pursuing the compensation you deserve for defending America and doing your duty.
When Veterans file for disability benefits, they must prove a service connection between a specific event or activity to the claimed disability or condition. For example, if a Veteran wishes to acquire benefits for their paralysis condition, they must prove that their active service contributed to or caused the paralysis in the first place.
This can be difficult for former paratroopers who may not have developed neck, back, or feet conditions immediately after or during active duty. These conditions sometimes take years to develop or worsen to the point where they are noticeable or impairing.
If a Veteran is honorably discharged from the military, then develops a back condition they believe resulted because of their paratrooping work, they may have difficulty connecting the condition to that work. For example, they may not know the exact drop or jump that caused the damage or condition.
This difficulty can be exacerbated if the Veteran in question works a physically demanding job in the years between their honorable discharge and their application for disability benefits. For instance, if a Veteran joins a construction company between leaving the service and filing for benefits, the VA may try to claim that the construction job caused the injuries that are now ailing them.
Although it can be tougher to connect paratrooping activities to service-connected disabilities, it’s not impossible.
At its core, the disability application process is about proving that one or more conditions or disabilities are directly related to your work as a paratrooper. You can do this in several ways, such as through:
In either case, your disability benefits may give you the funds you need to live comfortably or pay for medical treatments.
For starters, you’ll need to apply to the VA after gathering medical evidence about the condition or disability in question. A doctor’s note, an exam, and a comprehensive review of your disabilities should help to prove that you have one or more long-term conditions for which you require benefits.
What if the doctor won’t provide an opinion about your condition and its source or cause? In that case, you can make an argument for a service connection to your disability by filing VA Form 21-4138. Submit this form with your VA 21-526 EZ disability claims form and attach any medical articles or studies that come from credible sources to prove your claim.
This is one of the best ways to prove a service connection to your disability or condition, even if the VA doesn’t fully recognize joint issues, foot problems, paralysis, or spinal discomfort as presumptive conditions for paratrooping activities.
Next, you’ll need to provide a full record of your military service, including a record of all your activities and paratrooping missions. This will help the VA correlate your disability or condition with your military service and specific jobs or drops you participated in.
Furthermore, you may need to provide evidence that paratrooping activities, like jumping from a moving aircraft and landing with the assistance of a parachute, cause long-term damage to bones, joints, and other physical parts.
Veteran paratroopers will also need to take compensation and pension exams in many cases. C&P exams examine the Veteran’s medical records and other factors to determine how much compensation they are due because of their conditions and military service.
It can be challenging to get everything you need to provide the VA in order and file your disability benefits claim properly. That’s just another reason why skilled legal professionals, like the attorneys at Berry Law, are invaluable when filing for disability benefits.
Common disabilities for paratroopers deserve to be covered by VA disability benefits just like other disabilities and chronic conditions. Although you may have difficulty proving that your conditions are related to your service, it’s not impossible to get the benefits you deserve for your service to our country.
Berry Law may be able to help, even if you encounter pushback or delays from the VA office in your area. As skilled Veterans law attorneys, we’re able to help identify the best path forward and maximize your potential benefits. Furthermore, we can help you file for VA disability benefits quickly and accurately to minimize the likelihood of rejection.
Even if your benefits claim is rejected, we can help you with the appeals process. We never give up, no matter the roadblocks – it’s the least we can do when helping Veterans like you who have already served our country.
Give us a call or contact us today for more information and a free consultation.
Eligibility For VA Disability Benefits | Veterans Affairs
Chapter 2 Service-connected Disabilities | Office of Public and Intergovernmental Affairs
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