Dealing With The VA
John Morse, Veteran Writer
Original Publication Date: January 30, 2016
Republished: March 15, 2018
Unfortunately, there is no road map for navigating the VA claims process. Because of this, many veterans get frustrated and give up, do not appeal a denied claim, or follow up with an open claim.
Veterans that have been successful with the VA claims process have often gotten advice from other vets that have been successful.
The first step for a vet wanting to win a VA claim is to find a VSO (Veterans Service Officer). These folks are experts that do not work for the VA. They are veterans advocates that work for the VFW, DAV, American Legion, etc. They can often be found in VA hospitals or county offices. They will ask for a copy of your DD-214/215.
The second step is to file a claim for a presumptive disease or a non-contestable issue like tinnitus. If the claim is not going to be automatically granted (presumptive or non-contestable), you need to have a condition that occurred in service and be able to prove it - such as gunshot wound residuals or PTSD; in short, an official diagnosis and a nexus.
A nexus or service connection is imperative. This might be a doctor’s statement that states that your condition more likely than not was the result of your service. Perhaps the best advice is to immediately take any correspondence that you get from the VA directly to your VSO. Trying to respond to the VA yourself can be very discouraging. The VSO knows how to deal with VA correspondence.