Citation Nr: 18123947
Decision Date: 08/03/18	Archive Date: 08/03/18

DOCKET NO. 11-27 937
DATE:	August 3, 2018
Entitlement to service connection for asthma is granted.
The Veteran’s asthma was incurred during the Veteran’s period of active duty for training (ACDUTRA) in the Ohio Army National Guard.
The criteria for service connection for asthma are met.  38 U.S.C. §§ 1110, 1111, 1131, 5107(b); 38 C.F.R. §§ 3.102, 3.303(a).
The Veteran served on active duty in the United States Air Force from February 1985 to September 1987, the United States Army from January 2007 to January 2009, and on active duty for training (ACDUTRA) in the Ohio Army National Guard from January 3, 2006 to January 30, 2006.  The Veteran testified before the undersigned Veterans Law Judge during an April 2018 hearing.  This matter is on appeal from a December 2009 rating decision.
1. Entitlement to service connection for asthma
The Veteran asserts that his asthma originates in January 2006, during his period of ACDUTRA in the Ohio Army National Guard.  ACDUTRA with the Army National Guard of any state includes full-time duty under the provisions of 32 U.S.C. §§ [315], 502, 503, 504, or 505.  For the reasons that follow, the Board finds that the evidence is at least in equipoise as to whether his exercise induced asthma was incurred in service.  Therefore, service connection for asthma is warranted.
First, here, the Board finds that the Veteran has a current diagnosis of exercise-induced asthma.  See, e.g. September 2007 Medical Report Letter from Dr. T. D. H.  Therefore, the current diagnosis requirement is met.  
The second element is also met.  The Veteran has consistently contended that his difficulty with breathing began in January 2006 when he was ordered to ACDUTRA for the Ohio Army National Guard at Fort Stewart in Georgia.  See, e.g., May 2017 Veteran’s Statement.  He has also consistently contended that it was the tightness in his chest and his difficulty with breathing that caused him to immediately seek emergency care at the Winn Army Community Hospital in Fort Stewart, and that this was the first time that he had ever had any such breathing problems.  See id.
The Board finds that the Veteran’s contentions are supported by his service treatment records.  The record contains a radiology report from the Winn Army Community Hospital in Fort Stewart, Georgia, dated January 19, 2006 that shows that the Veteran was indeed admitted to the hospital’s emergency room on January 19, 2006 for wheezing.  See January 2006 Winn Army Community Hospital Medical Record.  The record further shows that a diagnosis of mild pulmonary overexpansion, consistent with bronchospasm, was made at that January 19, 2006 emergency room visit.  See id.  Moreover, the Veteran’s entrance physical examinations do not note any diagnosis or symptoms of asthma; therefore, he is presumed sound upon entering his period of ACDUTRA.  See February 2005 Ohio Army National Guard service enlistment examination; 1985-1987 Air Force service records; see also 38 U.S.C. § 1111; 38 C.F.R. § 3.304 (b); Wagner v. Principi, 370 F.3d 1089, 1096 (Fed. Cir. 2004); Bagby v. Derwinski, 1 Vet. App. 225, 227 (1991).  
As the Veteran’s verified in-service breathing problems are not considered to have his period of ACDUTRA, the remaining question is whether the Veteran’s current exercise-induced asthma is related to his in-service breathing problems, including the January 2006 diagnosis of mild pulmonary overexpansion.  Here, the Board finds that the evidence supports such a conclusion.  
The Board finds persuasive the June 2018 Report of Dr. J. D. S., Jr., who concluded that it is more likely than not that the Veteran’s exercise-induced asthma is a direct result of the incident of January 19, 2006, and the November 2009 Report of Dr. A. B. S., who concluded that it is less likely than not that the exercise-induced asthma diagnosed within 11 days of the Veteran’s ACDUTRA did not have its onset during ACDUTRA.  See June 2018 Report of Dr. J.D.S., Jr.; November 2009 Report of Dr. A. B. S.
The Board finds the opinions to be sufficient and entitled to probative weight because in forming these opinions, both Dr. J. D. S., Jr. and Dr. A. B. S. properly and thoroughly considered the lay statements, service records, and post-service treatment records, of record, and extensively discussed them in their opinions.  See Nieves-Rodriguez v. Peake, 22 Vet. App. 295, 302-05 (2008); Barr, 21 Vet. App. at 312.  Notably, there are also no negative nexus opinions on file.
Hence, after resolving reasonable doubt in the Veteran’s favor, the Board finds that the combined previously discussed medical evidence of record overall supports the finding that the Veteran’s asthma was incurred in ACDUTRA, at least to an evidentiary position of equipoise.  See 38 C.F.R. § 3.307, 4.124a; see also 38 U.S.C. § 5107; Gilbert v. Derwinski, 1 Vet. App. 49 (1990).  
Based on the foregoing, service connection for asthma is granted.  Wise v. Shinseki, 26 Vet. App. 517, 531 (2014) (“By requiring only an ‘approximate balance of positive and negative evidence’..., the nation, ‘in recognition of our debt to our veterans,’ has ‘taken upon itself the risk of error’ in awarding... benefits.”).
Veterans Law Judge
Board of Veterans’ Appeals
ATTORNEY FOR THE BOARD	C. J. Cho, Associate Counsel 

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