|Matthew Hill:||Hello, I’m Matthew Hill. This is the Hill and Ponton VA video blog, and I’m here with Carol Ponton.|
|Matthew Hill:||And today we’d like to talk to you about buddy statements, which we both consider to be a crucial piece of evidence, and, frankly, sometimes an overlooked piece of evidence that helped prove veterans’ claims.|
|Carol, tell us about the importance of it.|
|Carol Ponton:||Well, buddy statements are the way to prove something that you don’t have any other proof for. It can be that something happened in the service; that you were different when you came out of the service. It can be what your condition is now compared to how it was before you went in the service. It’s going to prove something that you may not have the evidence for otherwise, and it’s a chance for you to maybe develop evidence that isn’t there in the file already.|
|Matthew Hill:||Yeah, and as she’s saying, there’s a lot of times where the VA holds the cards, and the VA holds the service medical records, or the current treatment records. This is a way to get evidence yourself from someone who knows the fact you’re trying to prove.|
|Carol Ponton:||We have so many veterans that say “I was in the hospital for mental problems.” The records aren’t there, and they can’t do anything about it because, as you said, the VA is the keeper of the medical records, and they lose them.|
|So this is the way to prove whatever the records that you have aren’t proving, and it’s invaluable. I can’t emphasize enough how much it’s important to consider is this a time for a buddy statement, and how many buddy statements should you get?|
|Matthew Hill:||Right. A lot of times, they can be so strong, and the VA has trouble overcoming them and saying they’re not credible, instead of saying … You could just accept it. But they can be very strong for your case because basically, they’re reiterating your claim, your story, and if someone was there to see that, or if someone was there to experience that with you, or someone was there to observe before and after what happened, that’s evidence that the VA can’t just shake off.|
|Carol Ponton:||It’s like filling in your claim. Instead of saying “I have a mental condition,” or “I hurt my back,” this is a way to really paint the picture not only for the regional office but for the board of appeals as well.|
|Matthew Hill:||Also, stay tuned. We’re actually going to also talk about how to do a buddy statement, and then also what a buddy statement looks like in a claim for service connection, and separately what it looks like in a claim for increased rating.|
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