Summary of this Entry: An injury to a Reservist such as hearing loss or tinnitus which results in a disability rating from the Department of Veterans Affairs SHOULD convey veteran status permitting a service connection for Agent Orange-recognized illnesses resulting from exposures experienced at the same time as the hearing loss or similar injury. So, if an Air Force Reserve C-123 pilot receives a VA disability rating for hearing loss of 10%, or any other injury or illness, that disability makes him/her a "veteran" per the statute Therefore, VA's veteran-only Agent Orange benefits apply!
Here's what we lifted from BVA decisions on the matter:
To establish status as a "Veteran" based upon a period of ACDUTRA, a claimant must establish that he or she was disabled from disease or injury incurred or aggravated in the line of duty during that period of ACDUTRA. 38 C.F.R. § 3.1(a), (d); Harris v. West, 13 Vet. App. 509, 511 (2000); Paulson v. Brown, 7 Vet. App. 466, 470 (1995)In seeking VA disability compensation, a veteran generally seeks to establish that a current disability results from disease or injury incurred in or aggravated by service. 38 U.S.C.A. § 1110; 38 C.F.R. § 3.303. "Service connection" basically means that the facts, shown by evidence, establish that a particular injury or disease resulting in disability was incurred coincident with active service in the Armed Forces, or if preexisting such service, was aggravated therein. Service connection may also be granted for a disability resulting from disease or injury incurred in or aggravated while performing ACDUTRA or injury incurred or aggravated while performing inactive duty training (INACDUTRA). 38 U.S.C.A. §§ 101(22)-(24), 106(d), 1110 (West 2014); 38 C.F.R. § 3.6(c), (d), 3.303 (2014).Establishing service connection generally requires (1) medical evidence of a current disability; (2) medical, or in certain circumstances, lay evidence of in-service occurrence or aggravation of a disease or injury; and (3) medical evidence of a nexus between the claimed in-service disease or injury and the present disability. Hickson v. West, 12 Vet. App. 247, 253 (1999); 38 C.F.R. § 3.303(a).Section 5110(a), title 38, United States Code, provides that "[u]nless specifically provided otherwise in this chapter, the effective date of an award based on an original claim . . . of compensation . . . shall be fixed in accordance with the facts found, but shall not be earlier than the date of receipt of application therefor." The implementing regulation, 38 C.F.R. § 3.400, similarly states that the effective date of service connection "will be the date of receipt of the claim or the date entitlement arose, whichever is the later." Where a veteran served ninety days or more during a period of war or during peacetime service after December 31, 1946, and an organic disease of the nervous system including sensorineural hearing loss becomes manifest to a degree of ten percent within one year of termination of such service, such disease shall be presumed to have been incurred in service even though there is no evidence of such disease during the period of service. 38 U.S.C.A. §§ 1101, 1112, 1113, 1137; 38 C.F.R. §§ 3.307, 3.309. Service connection may be granted for any disease diagnosed after discharge, when all the evidence, including that pertinent to service, establishes that the disease was incurred in service. Presumptive periods are not intended to limit service connection to diseases so diagnosed when the evidence warrants direct service connection. The presumptive provisions of the statute and VA regulations implementing them are intended as liberalizations applicable when the evidence would not warrant service connection without their aid. 38 C.F.R. § 3.303(d.)
Active Service Criteria for Veteran Status (from Congressional Research Service)"Active service also includes a period of active duty for training during which the person was disabled or died from an injury or disease incurred or aggravated in the line of duty and any period of inactive duty for training during which the person was disabled or died from an injury incurred or aggravated in the line of duty or from certain health conditions incurred during the training.From VA Adjudication Manual, M21-1MR, Part III, Subpart ii, Chapter 6
“Active service" includes active duty, or any period of active duty for training during which a person is disabled or dies from a disease or injury incurred or aggravated in the line of duty, or an acute myocardial infarction, a cardiac arrest, or a cerebrovascular accident while proceeding directly to, or returning directly from, a period of active duty for training, or any period of inactive duty training during which a person is disabled or dies from an injury incurred or aggravated in the line of duty, or acute myocardial infarction, a cardiac arrest, or a cerebrovascular accident that occurred during such training or while proceeding directly to, or returning directly from, such training. References: For a definition of the term “active duty,” see 38 CFR § 3.6(b)