I had sixteen months in RVN, '66-'67. In 2019, I had an ischemic stroke. An MRI showed several previous strokes before that. VA denied my claim. Is it worth pursuing an appeal or should I wait and see if Congress acts on the Bill to recognize ischemic strokes as something Agent Orange exposure causes?? Thanks.
It's unfortunate that ischemic stroke caused by carotid artery disease isn't recognized as a presumptive condition when ischemic heart disease is. Ischemic stroke is caused by narrowing of the arteries in your neck whereas IHD is caused by narrowing in the arteries that supply blood to the heart muscle. These vessels are a couple inches from each other and the mechanism of the disease is the same for each. Yet somehow the decision was made that one would be presumptive, the other not.
However, it is what it is and your carotid artery disease is not presumptive to agent orange exposure.
You can file and win a claim however. The first way and the most effective is if you are rated for diabetes...and many Vietnam veterans are...you can file carotid artery disease and a subsequent ischemic stroke as secondary to the service connected diabetes. Otherwise you can seek an independent medical opinion or a 'nexus letter' from a qualified physician who is of the opinion that agent orange caused or contributed to your carotid artery disease.
In any case an Independent Medical Opinion is likely to be necessary. Yes, I do think it's worth pursuing an appeal and were I you I'd go for the IMO and I'd also speak with a veterans law attorney.
While this may seem like a lot of fuss, you'll be happy that you did it all should another stroke come along in the future. Good luck sir.