Preceding the ratification of the Veterans Claims Assistance Act of 2000 (VCAA), the VA adjudication process often used contemporaneous medical evidence solely to grant service connection to veterans. Most statements that used lay evidence solely to support the nexus would be deemed less accurately based and there were challenges meeting the minimum “at least as like as not” related to service standard with subsequent successful service connection. Thankfully, over the years lay evidence has been more widely accepted in the adjudication process.
Statements in Support do not require the individual to have any specialized training or experiences. If the individual is competent, credible, and is aware of veteran’s experiences firsthand, then these statements can be used to support your claim and may be very helpful. These statements can be drafted on a VA form 21-4138 Statement In Support of Claim or on anything as simple as a word document or even a napkin (although we do not recommend the latter).
Below is a sample of what can make for a credible and complete lay statement.
BUDDY LETTER TEMPLATE
Date letter written
(PFC. John Snuffy)
BUDDY STATEMENT IN SUPPORT OF (Name of Veteran) VA MEDICAL CLAIM (medical ailment here)
I, (your name) SFC James Smith, observed or witnessed the following event or events. On (approximate time and dates) February 2, 2012, PFC Snuffy and I were conducting a 12 Mile Ruck March during Air Assault School. On the last mile PFC Snuffy rolled his right ankle and was unable to complete the last mile of the march. I recall this event vividly because it was the only thing that separated him from earning the highly coveted Air Assault badge. After the “ten hardest days in the Army” there was nothing that could prevent PFC Snuffy from crossing the finish line unless he was totally physically incapable. I recall him trying to rehab his ankle for months so that he could return to Air Assault School. He never fully recovered from the injury and continued to complain that his right ankle would bother him. As his Squad leader at the time, I would implore him to follow up at the Troop Medical Clinic, but he reported that the shame of revisiting the injury and lack of Air Assault qualifications was too much for him to seek further evaluation. (In this paragraph list mission, event, rough estimated dates, times if known, and how you know the veteran: spouse, fellow veteran, chaplain, friend, etc.)
I have been able to keep in contact with Veteran Snuffy over the years as our families have kept in contact. I know firsthand that he has continued to suffer from ankle pain since separating from service. I observed the beginnings of his symptoms and when they started on that infamous day, during Air Assault School. Next, as his supervisor I witnessed him struggle with running and even just walking at times due to his continued ankle pain. I have also observed him ice his ankle and wear a brace he purchased from the Post Exchange (PX).
(End your buddy statement with phrase). I certify to the best of my knowledge that my statements are true and accurate. You may contact me at (this phone number) or (email) with any questions.
Your name printed. James Smith
any titles, rank. SFC, Former Squad leader
Unit or company. C co 426 Brigade Support BN, 1BCT 101ST ABN DIV
Fort Campbell, KY USA
While this should not be taken as legal advisement, it is a smart idea to follow up with an accredited representative such as a VSO, Accredited Claims Agent, or VA Accredited Attorney for further clarification. For much more on how these puzzle pieces may fit together, take a look at the services we offer and consider us your one stop shop for your Independent Medical Opinion/Nexus letter needs.