– 1 Do Not Delay.  The DAV magazine and Army Times has plenty of veterans asking for help to substantiate an injury from 20 years ago or longer.

            – 2 Be Prepared: you got to have ink:  DD-214, sick call slips, medical records.  Have all your paperwork in order, make copies of your medical records and if possible, have a digital copy.

            – 3 Make an Appointment with the VA upon retirement or separation from active duty.  If you are a Reserve component service member, upon redeployment or an injury during training; this is an earned benefit and starts the process for medical treatment and claims.

            – 4 Follow the VA Process.  As Veterans we do not have to like it; we just have to do it.

            – 5 Do Not Miss Appointments!!  The VA is a stickler about this.  Call to cancel, do not blow off an appointment.  It is hard to expect the VA people to care about you if you do not care about you.

            – 6 Arrive Early.  Ten minutes early is still ten minutes late.  Upon arrival, you have to check in before you can go to your appointment.

            – 7  No Need to Go This Alone; contact the DAV   [http://www.dav.org/] or another Veterans support organization if you need help with a VA claim or want to talk to someone about the process.

            – 8 Be Persistent.  The VA compensation process could take a while.

            – 9 Do Not Be a Hero:  if you were injured on duty, you deserve treatment and or compensation.  This is not the time to ‘suck it up’ and live with a life-long debilitating injury.

            – 10 Never Give Up.  This is no time to quit because the process got hard, confusing or complicated.

           –BONUS:  VA Math?  Let’s say you complete the medical examinations and disability compensation process and you are listed [example]:

            Ringing in ears:       10% [Very common with veterans- hint!]

            PTSD:                         30%

            Migraines:                20% [or some other injury]

            The simple math total is 60% disabled and therefor your compensation is 60%?  Not necessarily so; by VA Math- the total disability could be rated at 50%, the VA does number rounding and injury prioritizing.

            Good luck- this could take a while requiring multiple VA appointments, it is very important to begin the VA process and complete it in order for you to be made as whole as you can be and be compensated for what cannot be fixed.

           NOTE: If you are awarded 10% disability rating or more, there are certain local and state benefits you may qualify for; so it might be worth your time to ask your town and visit your state’s website.