A Veteran can directly service connect Diabetes by combing their C-File and medical records (both in-service and post-service medical records) for any evidence of symptomatology of diabetes.
For Type I Diabetes, the Veteran should look for common symptomatology that includes (but is certainly not limited to): indications of blood sugar levels which are consistent with a diagnosis of diabetes or that approach diabetic levels; frequent urination; unusual thirst; extreme hunger; unusual weight loss; and/or extreme fatigue and irritability.
For Type I Diabetes, the Veteran should look for common symptomatology that includes (but is certainly not limited to): for any of the Type I symptomatology, and also frequent infections, blurred vision, cuts/bruises that a cuts/bruises that are slow to heal, tingling or numbness in the extremities, and/or recurring skin, gum or bladder infections. With Type II Diabetes, it is important to note that a Veteran may experience no symptomatology.
Secondary Service Connection
This is a very rare and unusual way to service connect diabetes - if your diabetes is the result of another service-connected condition, then this is the method of service connection that you will want to pursue.
Secondary Service Connection often requires an independent medical opinion. In such circumstances the Independent Medical Examiner should follow these steps:
1) Review the Veteran's entire Claims File (or C-File) - and state in the opinion that the Medical Expert reviewed this document.
2) Fully explain all factors that play into the etiology of the Veteran's diabetes
3) Explain the reasons and bases for the Medical Expert's belief that the Diabetes was caused by, or secondary to, the primary service-connected condition
4) A statement that it is "at least as likely as not" or "more likely than not" that the Veteran's diabetes is secondary to the primary service-connected condition.
Service Connection by Legal Presumption
If your Diabetes was diagnosed while you were in military service, or if the symptoms of Diabetes present to a compensable degree (10%) within one year of discharge from military service, your Diabetes may be presumed to be service-connected by operation of a legal presumption.
How does a Veteran know if your Diabetes presented to a compensable degree of 10% or more? The Veteran should review the rating criteria for diabetes found at 38 C.F.R. Part 4 to determine if his or her Diabetic symptomatology reaches or exceeds that 10% compensable level.
Agent Orange and Diabetes
Certain Military Veterans that were exposed to Agent Orange during the Vietnam War are entitled to a legal presumption that their Type II diabetes was caused by Agent Orange exposure.
To be eligible for benefits under this liberalizing rule, the Veteran must have served in specific units, at specific times, where and when the VA has conceded that Agent Orange was used (this list is always changing, as the DoD and the VA slowly admit that the use of Agent Orange was far more extensive than they previously led American citizens to believe). For now, here are some of the military veterans of Vietnam who are eligible for compensation for diabetes due to Agent Orange exposure:
1) Any soldier with "boots on the ground" in the Republic of Vietnam during the war
2) Brown Water Navy Veterans
3) Certain Vietnam Veterans that served in Thailand, Korea, and CONUS posts