Making Sure You Use Buddy Statements Correctly
When trying to prove your disability claim to the VA, it’s often very helpful to get others to validate the severity of your disability. When people give testimonies like these they are called Buddy Statements. What is more, the people who testify for you don’t have to be just your buddies; they can be a spouse, relative, your commanding officer, in short anyone whose known you very well before service or during service, but before your disability occurred.
To clarify, Buddy Statements written by your family or friends will typically be about your time before service and how your current disability has affected you and maybe even them. Buddy Statements written by your fellow service members will typically be people who were there when your injury happened. They can explain in detail everything surrounding that time such as working conditions or equipment used. It’s very important to remember to not write a whole chapter just the most important facts and details.
The impact that Buddy Statements have to prove your claim is a lot, but many times people make simple mistakes that make their statements useless. When you are trying to prove a service-connected disability it is very important that you get people who actually know you and observed first-hand either how this disability changed you or the actual incident that caused the disability. Too many times Veterans will get people they believe will give great statements in support of them, but it’s not about how much they like you, it’s about the content they can provide. They need people that can show the veteran had no problem, either physical or mental, prior to their disability.
They must describe how they knew them. “I met [blank] when we were kids, we grew up together and I was always at his house. He was always so active, he loved running in the morning and participating in sports and he never had a [blank] problem. After he returned, I noticed he didn’t want to do any of the things he used to regularly do, he would (limp, rest every so often, or anything related to his disability that interferes with his previous life)." Essentially, you are stating what you knew about him before service and that the disability is something completely new and that after he was discharged you noticed some problems that weren’t there before. If possible try to be as specific as possible, but not over exaggerating, show how you noticed the problem and when. Most importantly, put what you saw or heard, not what someone told you happened.