First, go online to your VA claims section and create an “intent to file” record. Then, whether or not you think you may file for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, visit YouTube and invest several hours learning about what PTSD is and how it reveals itself. Most veterans will begin to recognize it in themselves and be better prepared to talk to their health care provider about it.
Understand this: You are given a disability rating and paid monthly compensation NOT for what is BROKEN (mental or physical), but instead for HOW what is broke DISABLES daily living. Your job is not to be a self-doctor but to be aware of what you cannot do because of your mental of physical issues. Let the VA determine what those limitations are worth.
ENROLL IN THE VA AND GO
First thing first, get enrolled at the VA through the eligibility office and make your first care team appointment for a checkup. It all starts there. Then ask for a mental health referral. It is your RIGHT to ask and get one. Then GO! Do not miss appointments, go as often as you can. Get your issues and needs on the official record as soon as possible.
CATALOG YOUR SERVICE
Write a story of you military experience from boot camp until discharge. Every deployment, assignment, bump, bruise, trauma, security assignment, burning pit, bad water, near explosion, near death, death witnessed….ALL OF IT. Refresh your memory and records as often as possible.
CONNECT WITH AN EXPERT
Seek out the best claims preparer in your county. At the county VA office, VFW, DAV, or other organization. In every county there is a hot-shot that has a record of successfully filing claims. You do your part, they will do their part.
SPOUSES AND OTHERS
Now that you know what PTSD is, survey your spouse, family, employer, and friends and look for evidence that they see PTSD and other disability signs in your life that you may miss. They are your civilian witness team. Be open to what they say, even if you disagree.
At this point, your issues will be clear. Mental, physical, etc. If possible, get external evaluations and DBQ’s . Gather buddy statements. Gather family statements. List your disabilities, in detail. Prepare to submit all of this in the form of a claim. Assemble your claim with the help of your claims assistant.
GET YOUR RATING.
They will file a “fully developed claim” and you will wait for a response. Get your disability rating. If not 100% then regroup and prepare for a second submission. Rinse and repeat until your receive the compensation you feel you deserve.
Too many military veterans are struggling without even knowing that they have a disability resulting from military service. The place to start in exploring whether or not you have a disability is to register with the VA and begin seeking out the physical and mental health professionals who are experienced at identifying these issues. The checklist below will get you on the right track to preparing to file for your claim. Just don’t assume you are okay, go through the process and confirm that you are ok. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain.
Here at Veteran Today, we are prepared to answer your questions every step of the way. Reach out. Attend our Sunday night 8pm
Call Lance at (386) 999-1963 at ANY point of the process and ask questions. If you don’t know what to ask, call anyway.
You are NOT alone.