|Matthew Hill:||Hello, I’m Matthew Hill here with Carol Ponton, on the Hill & Ponton VA Video Blog. It’s a day we’re talking to you about buddy statements.|
|Carol Ponton:||Buddy statements.|
|Matthew Hill:||It’s a third in a four-part series on buddy statements and their importance in your claim. The first one was just the overall importance of buddy statements, and then we talked about how to create one.|
|Now we want to jump into specifics. Here we’re going to talk about service connection claims, proving that your disability is related to service and using buddy statements to do it. We see this right now where we seem to see this a bunch is with Thailand and veterans trying to prove they’re exposed to agent orange, herbicides, while they were in Thailand and using other veterans to help for that.|
|Carol, what do you see?|
|Carol Ponton:||It’s crucial to proving these cases. Unfortunately, the VA seems to take the position that nobody worked on the perimeter, although the perimeters are so close to everybody. What we have-|
|Matthew Hill:||It’s like since everybody worked on the perimeter, nobody worked on the perimeter.|
|Carol Ponton:||Right, and so we found that we’re able to get benefits for veterans with buddy statements. We try to get someone that we can show that was in his unit, someone replaced him in his unit, someone worked with him on the flight line, and says, “I saw them spraying,” or one of the things we have is Thailand’s a jungle.|
|There was no jungle around our base. You could see the jungle off in the distance, but all you saw coming up close was dead foliage. Periodically, somebody would come around and spray it. There was never a lawnmower there. There was always spraying. For that reason, I know that this was herbicide that was used there, and it killed all of the foliage. These are ways to get people benefits.|
|Matthew Hill:||Right, and so going back to what she was saying, having somebody there, and again, laying out the predicate, laying out the foundation of, “My name’s Jimmy Smith. I served in this unit in the Army. We were stationed at this base in Thailand,” and just going down the ladder of all those things and then saying, “While I was there, I was in a hooch, and we were 15 meters from the actual perimeter. I worked on the flight line, which might have been 50 meters from the perimeter. Bob Jones was in my unit, and we worked together. We were there for 10 months,” so just laying out what the person knows, how they are connected to either the veteran or the place and time. Then that just gives further evidence of what was going on with the veteran.|
|With Thailand, it’s just the VA stance is just nonsensical. They’re making each and every veteran fight this as if they grant benefits for one of our veterans saying, “Okay, you were close to the flight line. Therefore, you were close to the perimeter, and we’ll give you benefits.” But when it comes to the next veteran-|
|Carol Ponton:||You’ve got to start all over again.|
|Matthew Hill:||It’s like they have amnesia.|
|Carol Ponton:||One of the things that we use for a buddy statement is maps, photos. It’s really important to take a photo of the base and show where were you living, where were you working. When you went off base, did you go across the perimeter? Then I have veterans that have the hooches that maybe they lived in that had no windows. They would talk about the fact that there would be storms blowing dust through there, or that they would have … one of them had a garden and said the people who went around spraying for herbicides and killed their entire garden.|
|What you want to do is draw a picture. The clearer you can make it for the VA, the better chance you have of winning. The more people that can verify this is what was going on, the better chance.|
|Matthew Hill:||Right. It’s your story, and you’ve got to tell your story. The VA doesn’t believe your story, so you need to have supporting characters. You need to have others verify what they can of your story. Again, this is one of the most important pieces of evidence you get, because you can create this. You are in control of this to the extent that you know people who are there with you. You know people who served where you served, and you can get their statements to help you win your case.|
|Carol Ponton:||Exactly. If you’re not in touch with someone, you don’t know how to get a hold of them, go online. There are a lot of people now that are going online searching for other people or people that have put statements online, because they’ve been so frustrated about what happened to them. There are pictures of Udorn or all the other bases in Thailand. You can bring that picture, make a map yourself of what happened, and then give it to your friend for them to identify.|
|Matthew Hill:||Just, yeah, say where they were.|
|Thank you again for tuning in. This is a third part in a four part series on buddy statements. Again, we talked today about service connection and how you can get your case connected to service through the help of buddy statements. The next one we’re going to do is going to be on increased rating and buddy statements. Thanks.|
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