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Can You Join The Military With Sleep Apnea

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Getting Veterans Disability For Sleep Apnea

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If you developed sleep apnea during your military service, you could be eligible to receive disability benefits. But there are several challenges to winning veterans disability for sleep apnea, and many veterans receive denials after they apply. The legal team at Chisholm Chisholm & Kilpatrick LTD can help you file an appeal and prove your sleep apnea is a result of an in-service illness, injury, or event.

We have years of experience successfully advocating for VA disability appeals for our veteran clients including those diagnosed with sleep apnea. We want to put that experience to work for you.

Get Help With Your Va Sleep Apnea Claim Today

As accredited veterans attorneys, we are honored to discuss with you any problems or questions you may have about your sleep apnea disability claim or appeal. If you are not satisfied with VAs handling of your claim for benefits, please call Marc Whitehead & Associates at for a free consultation without delay.

Secondary Basis Medical Conditions

Fortunately, there are several medical conditions that service members may cite on a secondary basis like:

  • Asthma
  • Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
  • Traumatic Brain Injury
  • Tinnitus

It is recommended that you meet with a medical professional if you have symptoms of sleep apnea.

The medical condition is serious and you may be entitled to VA disability benefits as a result.

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New Va/dod Guidelines Address Sleep

Recommendations expected to change care of insomnia, sleep apnea in these unique populations

University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio

– Recognizing and addressing the widespread problem of sleep disorders in military personnel and veterans, the U.S. Departments of Veterans Affairs and Defense jointly have issued new guidelines for assessment and treatment of insomnia and obstructive sleep apnea.

“This is a major step for these two organizations in recognizing the importance of appropriately diagnosing and treating sleep disorders in these unique populations,” said Vincent Mysliwiec, M.D., a sleep medicine physician, researcher and retired U.S. Army colonel who helped author the guidelines.

Dr. Mysliwiec, a professor of research in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, is also lead author of a synopsis of the guidelines written for the March 2020 issue of Annals of Internal Medicine, a leading medical journal.

Military service is an established risk factor for sleep disorders, which are considerably more prevalent in military personnel and veterans than in the general U.S. population. These populations also have high rates of traumatic brain injury, posttraumatic stress disorder , and other mental health disorders, which combined with insomnia and/or sleep apnea complicate treatment of affected military personnel and veterans.


How Do You Prove Sleep Apnea Is Service

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The critical component to gaining approval for VA disability benefits is proving the medical condition is service-connected.

What this means it the VA will not approve disability benefits unless the patient can link the medical condition to time served in the military.

The only exception is if you were already diagnosed with a medical condition, yet have evidence that the disorder got worse during your time serving the country.

Veterans have 2 options for proving that sleep apnea is service-connected:

  • Medical Records/Evidence
  • Secondary Basis

The VA traditionally performs a sleep study examination if the patient is suffering from symptoms that may be linked to sleep apnea.

The sleep study can serve as medical proof that your sleep apnea disorder is service-connected if medical records do not provide any evidence before you joined the military.

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The Militarys Stance On Sleep

The Office of the Army Surgeon General recommends that soldiers sleep at least seven hours per night, although only a minimum of four hours is required during field training exercises. In preparation for times when sleep may be hard to achieve, such as during a combat mission or overnight operation, soldiers are recommended to get at least nine hours of sleep ahead of time.

While not a long-term solution to the impacts of chronic short sleep, banking sleep in this way may provide immediate, next-day effects which can improve soldiers effectiveness during a mission. Getting more sleep than usual improves alertness and performance during a short period of sleep deprivation, and napping has been shown to lower heart rate and improve memory in athletes.

Due to the nature of military service, its difficult for many service members to sleep for seven hours, uninterrupted, so they end up taking naps when they can. Some may use the military sleep method, which popularized in the book Relax and Win: Championship Performance5. This military sleep method was used by World War II soldiers to fall asleep within two minutes. Heres how it works:

  • Start by relaxing your entire face, including your foreheads, eyelids, jaw, and tongue.
  • Drop your shoulders and then your hands, letting them fall to either side of your body.
  • Inhale and exhale to relax your chest.
  • Then, progressively relax your legs, starting with your thighs and then your calves, ankles, and feet.
  • Symptoms Of Sleep Apnea

    The signs and symptoms of Obstructive Sleep Apnea and Central Sleep Apnea are similar.

    According to the Mayo Clinic, most patients suffer from one or more of the following symptoms:

    • Loud snoring
    • Difficulty staying focused or paying attention
    • Episodes where you stop breathing while sleeping

    Moreover, most patients with a form of sleep apnea report either difficulty staying asleep or excessive sleep patterns .

    It is difficult to diagnosis the correct type of sleep apnea without speaking to a medical professional since many of the symptoms overlap.

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    Sleep Problems Are Widespread In The Us Military

    On average, around 70% of service members do not get the recommended amount of sleep a night. After at least 6 months of deployment in Iraq, one study found that U.S Army soldiers part of Operation Iraqi Freedom only slept an average of 5.8 hours a night. Worse yet, merely 16% reported a daytime nap or even felt like their performance was affected by the lack of sleep. Sleep deprivation was also higher among those with prior combat exposure and was even associated with a range of mental health issues including depression, generalized anxiety, posttraumatic stress disorder, and panic disorders.

    Poor sleep has also been shown to be associated with high-risk health behaviors such as abuse of tobacco and alcohol, and even suicidal ideation. Unfortunately, the price service members are paying by not prioritizing sleep is taking a serious toll on both their physical and mental well-being and safety.

    The rates of sleep dysfunction balloons in service members whove experienced combat-related traumatic brain injury. In fact, one study showed that nearly all of those surveyed reported sleep complaints, with many experiencing severe sleep disorders such as obstructive sleep apnea and insomnia. Service members reporting blast injuries and blast trauma experienced over double the rates of anxiety which was associated with a significantly higher prevalence of sleep disorders.

    People Who Go To The Military Out Of High School Do Not Get The Chance To Study At College Level

    VA Rating for Sleep Apnea Secondary to PTSD

    Members in service are eligible for tuition assistance from the Military Tuition Assistance Program, which pays up to 100% of the tuition and school expenses, depending on the limits that the Department of Defense has established.

    Other top-up programs such as the Montgomery GI Bill Active Duty and the Post-9/11 GI Bill pay the fees that the tuition assistance does not cover.

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    The Importance Of Cpap Equipment

    If youve been diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea, obtaining a CPAP machine is an absolute must. A CPAP machine provides a steady flow of air throughout the night to keep your breathing passages open. With a consistent supply of oxygen, you wont wake up in the middle of the night. You will even stop snoring something your spouse will greatly appreciate.

    In addition to the machine itself, you will need to get a mask that is an appropriate fit for your facial structure and your breathing habits. For example, a full face mask is essential for anyone who breathes through their mouth during sleep. If you breathe through your nose at night and find the large size of a full face mask to feel claustrophobic, you will likely be better served with a nasal mask or nasal pillows. A quality fit is essential to prevent air leaks and skin irritation.

    Because a CPAP machine is a piece of medical equipment, you must receive a prescription from a licensed medical professional to buy one. This professional diagnosis is also necessary for you to receive disability compensation from the VA.

    As part of writing your prescription for CPAP therapy, your sleep specialist will also determine the appropriate air pressure level for your treatment. They can also work with you to figure out which size and type of mask will provide the best fit.

    Apnea And Military Disability

    Obstructive sleep apnea describes an incidence in which the breathing passages are temporarily blocked during sleep, cutting off oxygen to the brain. The body recognizes this and will force the individual to wake up gasping for breath. The person with sleep apnea will often fall back asleep shortly after waking up, and may not even realize their sleep was interrupted when they get up in the morning.

    However, these events keep you from getting the deep sleep that is necessary to be fully refreshed and revitalized in the morning. Those with obstructive sleep apnea suffer from chronic fatigue that can leave them feeling irritable and cause trouble concentrating. Those with sleep apnea are more likely to experience accidents while working or driving. They are also at a higher risk of serious health conditions related to poor sleep, including elevated blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes.

    Obstructive sleep apnea is so serious that the VA considers sleep apnea patients 50 percent disabled a more severe rating than an amputee who uses a prosthetic limb. Quite simply, sleep apnea can dramatically harm job performance because of its myriad side effects. Veterans who need to use a CPAP machine who developed their condition during their service are entitled to significant disability compensation to help pay for treatments and other expenses.

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    List Of 40+ Possible Sleep Apnea Secondary Conditions

  • Sleep Apnea secondary to Allergic Rhinitis
  • Sleep Apnea secondary to Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis
  • Sleep Apnea secondary to Anxiety
  • Sleep Apnea secondary to Asthma
  • Sleep Apnea secondary to Atrial Fibrillation
  • Sleep Apnea secondary to Back Pain
  • Sleep Apnea secondary to Brain Infections or swelling of the brain
  • Sleep Apnea secondary to Brainstem or Spinal Cord
  • Sleep Apnea secondary to Cervical Nerve conditions
  • Sleep Apnea secondary to Cervical Spine Injuries
  • Sleep Apnea secondary to Chemicals or Toxins exposure
  • Sleep Apnea secondary to Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
  • Sleep Apnea secondary to Chronic Pain
  • Sleep Apnea secondary to Chronic Sinusitis
  • Sleep Apnea secondary to Lung Condition
  • Sleep Apnea secondary to conditions that interfere with the jaw, tongue, or nose
  • Sleep Apnea secondary to Congestive Heart Failure
  • Sleep Apnea secondary to Depression
  • Sleep Apnea secondary to Deviated Septum
  • Sleep Apnea secondary to Diabetes
  • Sleep Apnea secondary to Encephalitis
  • Sleep Apnea secondary to Fatigue
  • Sleep Apnea secondary to Fibromyalgia
  • Sleep Apnea secondary to GERD
  • Sleep Apnea secondary to Gulf War Syndrome
  • Sleep Apnea secondary to Heart Attack
  • Sleep Apnea secondary to Heart Disease
  • Sleep Apnea secondary to Heart Rhythm Disorders
  • Sleep Apnea secondary to High Blood Pressure
  • Sleep Apnea secondary to Hypertension
  • Sleep Apnea secondary to Hypothyroidism
  • Sleep Apnea secondary to Insomnia
  • Sleep Apnea secondary to Insulin Resistance
  • Sleep Apnea secondary to Liver Disease
  • Active Duty Military Personnel Prone To Sleep Disorders

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    A new study found a high prevalence of sleep disorders and a startlingly high rate of short sleep duration among active duty military personnel. The study suggests the need for a cultural change toward appropriate sleep practices throughout the military.

    Results show that the majority of participants had a clinically relevant sleep disorder. Obstructive sleep apnea was the most frequent diagnosis , followed by insomnia . Participants mean self-reported home sleep duration was only 5.74 hours per night, and 41.8 percent reported sleeping five hours or less per night. According to the AASM, individual sleep needs vary however, most adults need about seven to eight hours of nightly sleep to feel alert and well-rested during the day.

    While sleep deprivation is part of the military culture, the high prevalence of short sleep duration in military personnel with sleep disorders was surprising, said Vincent Mysliwiec, MD, the studys principal investigator, lead author and chief of Pulmonary, Critical Care and Sleep Medicine at Madigan Army Medical Center in Tacoma, Wash. The potential risk of increased accidents as well as long-term clinical consequences of both short sleep duration and a sleep disorder in our population is unknown.

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    What If You Conducted The Study After You Separated Or Retired

    Most veterans fall in the category of conducting a sleep study when they got out , and it was evident by the doctor that you had sleep apnea and had a CPAP machine. Acquiring a CPAP machine still does not constitute an automatic claim approval. On the bright side, since the VA provided the CPAP machine, that means its in your medical records.

    Your medical records are essential in all of your claims. Especially when it comes to sleep apnea, a complex process where most of the information will depend on how well its been service-connected.

    Medical Conditions That Can Keep You From Joining The Military

    Below, you will find details from the Army‘s “Standards of Medical Fitness.” These standards generally apply to all other branches as well. Remember that most of these conditions are not necessarily permanently disqualifying, but they are red flags.

    If you have had a medical complication at any time in your life that is mentioned here, then you need to tell your recruiter. They will tell you whether your condition can be waived, or if it is permanently disqualifying. Remember that if you do not get an official waiver and your condition later is discovered, you most likely will be dishonorably discharged for fraudulent enlistment. The choice is yours.

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    Military Relevant Animal Models

    Lower mammalian species permit invasive studies on the neural underpinning of sleep and sleep disruption that are not possible using human subjects. Rodents have inherently different sleep/wake patterns than humans , yet certain features of the sleep/wake system have been conserved across species that permit results to be translated. At present, the laboratory mouse has become the most prevalent rodent model for studying sleep/wake neurocircuitry due in part to conserved genetic regulation of sleep/wake states and sleep/circadian rhythm disorders that are similar to humans, including:

  • baseline sleep amounts and homeostatic responsiveness to sleep loss )
  • sleep timing (Per2:
  • short sleepers
  • sex-linked regulation of sleep/wake processes , and
  • broad quantitative trait loci studies in mice and equivalent genome wide studies in humans .
  • Further, widespread integration of genetic tools and techniques now allow cell type and pathway specific studies into the brain regions that control sleep/wake states . This is a critical advance, as early research into the neuroanatomical basis of these states relied on gross surgical techniques to sever pathways, as well as electrolytic or chemolytic ablation of a brain area , or as a consequence of stroke or injury to isolate and assess the influence of distinct brain regions.

    Sleep as a metric in military relevant animal models

    Wireless telemetry

    Completing The Disability Claim

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    Step 5: Submit a personal statement along with the disability claim. The personal statement outlines when you believe the condition started and how your time in the military made sleep apnea worse. Include as many medical records and evidence as possible.

    Step 6: Patients that need a CPAP or another type of breathing device while sleeping should get written acknowledgment from a doctor that the machine is necessary because of sleep apnea. This simple step should guarantee a 50% rating or higher.

    Step 7: Some patients opt to include buddy letters from family, friends, and military associates that are familiar with the condition and how it has negatively affected your life.

    Step 8: Review the disability claim for errors and submit. Patience is necessary with VA disability claims, particularly those associated with sleep apnea since the government does not have a stellar track record of approving these types of claims.

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    Is Sleep Apnea A Disability A Guide For Veterans

      Is Sleep Apnea a disability? What are the new VA rules regarding disability claims? How have the rules changed? This article has helpful information about new VA regulations regarding Sleep Apnea as a disability, and also includes a section with information about how PTSD can impact Sleep Apnea. The article also covers how the Social Security Administration views Sleep Apnea disability claims.

      How Sleep Apnea Could Link To Military Service

      There are a number of ways military service can lead to developing Sleep Apnea. It can also happen from routine injuries during the course of performing ones military duties. This can include: broken legs, ankles, back injuries, and the list goes on. The military is a very physically demanding work environment, and sometimes injuries happen.

      Sleep Apnea in the workplace injuries can lead to a loss of mobility and activity, which can lead to a person developing risk factors for Sleep Apnea, such as weight gain due to decreased mobility. Its a VA requirement that a veteran demonstrates the disability claim for Sleep Apnea be the result of military service, so its important for the link to be demonstrated as part of the VA disability claim.

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      Get The Care You Need

      Whether you are active, reserve, or retired military, getting quality sleep is essential for your overall health and well-being. The extreme exhaustion and fatigue that result from obstructive sleep apnea can influence your concentration and decision-making abilities, while also putting you at greater risk for heart disease, depression, and more.

      Here at No Insurance Medical Supplies, we offer a wide range of CPAP machines to help you keep obstructive sleep apnea in check. We offer the latest models from leading brands like Philips Respironics and ResMed, many at significantly discounted prices. Financing is also available to make this essential equipment even more affordable.

      While your military service has the potential to increase your risk for sleep apnea, it doesnt have to result in permanently decreased sleep quality. With a CPAP machine from No Insurance Medical Supplies, you can get the rest you need and deserve.

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