By: Susan Paczak
I receive many calls from veterans who ask: What can I do to prove my claim if my service records were lost or don’t mention my service-connected injury? The VA often denies claims because the service records are unavailable or service-connected injury or illness isn’t mentioned in the records. You can still win this claim if you provide other evidence.
In cases where the VA cannot find the service records because they were lost or destroyed, it has a duty to tell the veteran what other evidence they need to prove the claim. In these cases, the most important evidence the veteran can submit is a very detailed statement of when, where, and how the injury/illness happened, and, if the veteran received medical treatment, when and where that happened. The veteran should send in statements from “buddies,” family members or friends that the veteran told about the injury/illness, or who witnessed the veteran’s problem (such as limping after a knee injury). I have used letters that the veteran’s mother kept in which they described what happened in service. Medical records of treatment shortly after service can also be helpful. The VA has a duty to get records from the Department of Defense, such as unit records or histories that may mention the incident.
If the service records are available, but don’t mention the injury/illness, the veteran should submit a detailed statement, statements from buddies or family members, and civilian medical records. If the injury happened during combat, but isn’t in the records, the veteran’s statement must be accepted by the VA as the truth, even if there is no other evidence that the injury happened in service.
The VA system make it hard for veterans to know what they need to do to get benefits. If you want to know what you need for your claim or if your claim was denied and you want to appeal, please call ABES BAUMANN today for help.