If a Veteran is seeking disability benefits through the United States Department of Veterans Affairs, they will need specific evidence to prove that their injury or illness is connected to their military service. That is why a VA buddy letter can be so crucial to these claims, especially since these letters are a valuable source of evidence that can support a Veteran’s VA disability benefits claim and can help increase a Veteran’s disability rating.
For these reasons, to help clear up some of this confusion surrounding these VA buddy letters and what they need to include, we have prepared the following blog post. In it, we will go over exactly what these VA buddy letters are, who should write a VA buddy letter, and tips on how you can prepare a solid and detailed buddy letter.
Buddy letters, also referred to as buddy statements, provide firsthand details about an individual’s incident that caused their disability, as well as information about the disability itself. Since these letters are written statements from an individual that knows about the Veteran’s disease, injury, or sickness, many of these letters are written by people close to the Veteran.
Additionally, because of the details these letters contain, these VA buddy letters can be essential to a Veteran’s VA disability benefits as they can provide information corroborating or backing up the Veteran’s claim. These letters can also be incredibly vital in situations where records have been destroyed, lost, or never existed.
A buddy statement can be created by anyone that knows the Veteran and can serve as a dependable witness to their conditions. That is why the following individuals often write this letter:
If Veterans are not able to contact fellow services members to provide them a buddy statement, they can sometimes reach out to a veterans organization or search online for fellow veterans who may have experienced similar situations or even served at the time and same duty station. Sometimes, these fellow veterans may have enough information to write a VA buddy letter.
To create a VA buddy letter, an individual who has firsthand knowledge of the Veterans disability, injury, or experience in service needs to create a credible statement that supports the Veteran’s claim and offers an explanation of what they saw or are continuing to see.
If possible, these buddy letters should include information on the in-service incident as well as any first-hand knowledge of the progression of the symptoms, including how the condition affected and continues to affect the Veteran and those close to him or her. These statements should also discuss how the Veteran’s health has deteriorated since the incident that caused their disability. If the buddy letter is from a family member that lives with the Veteran, the letter can also discuss how the condition affects the Veteran’s everyday life.
If you were asked to write a VA buddy letter, there are a few things you should consider including in this letter to help the Veteran establish entitlement to VA benefits for the injury or illness they have suffered. For instance, the letter should include:
In this first section, you will want to indicate your name, how you know the Veteran, and how long you have known them.
In this next section of the buddy statement, you will want to include as much information as possible regarding what happened in service, including either the onset of the injury or illness, or your recollection of the event or incident.
As you are diving into the details of the incident, you will want to make sure you only include the information you know is accurate while being as detailed as possible. For instance, if you know that the Veteran has Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, you may want to describe how they suffer panic attacks, angry outbursts, and other anger issues. You should be sure to only include details that you have experienced firsthand.
Finally, when you are finished writing the letter, make sure you sign and date it, as well as include a declaration that attests that you are telling the truth. Once complete, you can give the letter to the Veteran so that they can submit it to VA with the rest of their documentation.
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