As Claims of Sleep Apnea Rise, More Vets Receive Diagnosis & Treatment

Since 2009, the number of veterans’ claims for sleep apnea has increased by over 150%, USA Today reports.

The surge in reports of sleep apnea can be attributed to growing awareness of the condition, according to officials of the Department of Veterans Affairs. This disorder is becoming increasingly recognized as a serious health concern, which is permitting veterans to apply for and receive appropriate treatment.

1 in 5 veterans has obstructive sleep apnea

Sleep apnea is the recurring interruption of breathing during sleep, which can lead to reduced sleep quality, short-term memory loss, and irritability and is related to serious health concerns such as diabetes and heart disease.

Sleep apnea is especially common among veterans, whose exposure to materials such as dust and fumes, as well as mental anxiety related to combat, make them more likely to develop chronic health conditions. According to the VA, 1 in 5 veterans has obstructive sleep apnea. Iraq veterans who reported mental conditions such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) were almost 45% more likely than non-combatants to develop sleep apnea.

Within the VA, veterans with sleep apnea are some of the first to receive treatment. Patients with apnea are considered 50% disabled, which puts them in Priority Group 1 for treatment. (By comparison, an amputee with a prosthetic limb is considered 40% disabled.) Sleep apnea is rated so seriously because reduced sleep quality affects virtually all aspects of a veteran’s waking hours, including concentration, mood, and overall job performance. 

Veterans with the condition are entitled to disability compensation of over $800 per month, provided that the condition was documented while they were still serving. The VA spends upwards of $500,000 a year to treat these men and women. Use of a CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) machine can alleviate nearly all symptoms of the condition.

Potential revisions to the VA’s disability rating system, which could occur within the next two years, could eventually change the way that veterans with sleep apnea are dealt with within the VA.

We perform sleep studies for veterans through the VA in Southern California.

Request a sleep study


USA Today: VA’s sleep apnea patients get top priority for care
USA Today: Veterans’ Claims for sleep apnea soar
Huffpost: Veterans with Sleep Apnea: a Growing Human Issue


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Photo Credit: Fort Rucker


  1. Richard De la Fuente Reply

    I would like to know more about this problem

  2. Joan L Mayfield Reply

    How does obstructive sleep apnea and insomnia affect daily activities/work

    • Dale Moore Reply

      Brain fog, always tired, headaches, body aches, hard time concentrating, low energy, mood swings. Anything else you want to know? I have been dealing with this for 29 years since dessert storm. Bad dreams, waking up and can’t breath, S.O.B., snoring even with a cpap machine. Restless leg syndrome along with central sleep apnea. Still the va will not give benefits for this condition.

  3. Health Blogs Reply

    Can you please tell us more about this?


    I have had a sleep device for 2 years given to me by the VA, positive sleep study, and all of the symptoms which can cause sleep apnea during service and have been denied 3 times

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  10. concrete Reply

    Within the next two years, there may be changes made to the VA’s disability rating system that might potentially alter how veterans with sleep apnea are handled by the agency.

  11. Stephen Ryan Reply

    Circadian rhythm disorders, alternating use of stimulants and sedatives, battle and trauma exposure, and chronic sleep deprivation can all contribute to the development of sleep apnea in military personnel.

  12. Dale M. Reply

    One night of a sleep test can change your life and sleep forever.

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