Before we continue I just want to emphasize that this is my opinion. This is not guidance from the VA. I believe that you should send a copy of all relevant information so the VA doesn’t have to go looking for it. Thorough evidence collection will reduce the amount of time it takes for the VA to adjudicate your claim. Review Part One.
6. Buddy Statements: Try to remember who was present during an incident that was not documented. You can ask people who were present to write you a lay statement or buddy statement to attest to what they witnessed. These statements cannot contain any medical claims unless the person has medical training. Use social media tools like Facebook and LinkedIn to locate people that you may have lost contact with.
For Example: Five other soldiers witnessed your fall from the back of a truck. They can explain the circumstances surrounding the fall, the height that they saw you fall from and the fact that you continued to work after your fall. They cannot say that they saw you herniate a disk.
7. Combat Injuries: Generally, if you have a combat award from your service, the VA will take your word on any plausible incident that occurred during that period of combat. Your Combat awards should be listed on your DD-214 but if the award citation includes information on an injury you should include a copy.
8. Unusual Circumstances: For injuries or incidents that may not sound plausible you will need to find another soldier or soldiers that experienced a similar incident to help prove your claim.
For Example: Soldiers that filed VA claims based on injuries received during tiger attacks in the jungles of Vietnam were denied until enough soldiers came forward with similar stories that the claims were then deemed plausible.
9. Top Secret Missions: Injuries that occurred during Top Secret missions are very had to get service connected. One way approach for getting the injuries service connected is to make sure you have your entrance and exit exams. Injuries that you did not have when you entered service but you do have when you exit service can be argued to be caused by or during service.
10. Other Types of Evidence: Letters home, newspaper clippings, and photos can all be used to document an incident that is not otherwise documented in your military personnel or medical records.
11. Breaks in Service: If your military career had any breaks you want to make sure that you have the exit and entrance exams for each period of service as well as the appropriate separation documentation. Also, you may want to gather any Guard or Reserve documents that may have been sent to the National Personnel Records Center if you have more than six months before you will file your claim.
Do you have other evidence collection tips? Share them below.