Being a veteran that travels can make it hard to get disability compensation care. The care I will be discussing is to get or increase your rating. I was surprised to first hear about Veterans State commissions at an RV Rally (pre-COVID). Even though I had been to and had worked with the Veterans Administration (VA) before, no one ever mentioned that states have a separate agency to assist with navigating issues at the VA.
I was hesitant about applying for disability for service-related injuries or illness because I was not missing any limbs or suffering from a traumatic brain injury. As I continued to age, those old service injuries started to impact my daily living. As I got involved with service organizations, I realized that I, like so many woman veterans, downplayed the impact of the injuries I received while serving my country. My brother retired from the military as well. He stated he put in all his paperwork as he retired. I did not until years later.
I tried working a few different approaches before I received results by using this process.
- Contact your States Veterans Commission. I went through the Texas State Veterans Commission. I was assigned a point of contact who handled the submission and tracking of my paperwork. Due to COVID these folks are still working from home. They will get back to you, but it may take a little longer than you are used to. My caseworker helped with correct forms, verbiage and submit the correct background information. Depending on your state, it may be easier to work with a service organization such as Wounded Warriors or Disable American Veterans.
- Be in your home state for at least 6 months. The longer you can stay in one place the easier it is to get those evaluation appointments completed. Most appointments are not done in a VA facility. All communication goes through the US mail. You will have to be able to get to your mail quickly. You might need to have your mail forwarding service either scan or overnight your mail due to appointments being scheduled within a few days of the letter being mailed.
- Find the Facts. Have as many facts available as you can about your service-related injury/illness. Those facts should include dates, places and events. Submit for each injury/illness that is service related even if you do not think it is a big deal. My caseworker really helped to narrow this information down. Have any supporting military documentation, no matter how old, available should it need to be scanned and sent.
- Be Patient. But stay in touch with your case worker. They will give you time frames you can expect things to happen.
I hope this information helps another veteran get the compensation you deserve. What has your experience been working with the VA?