Congratulations on your service! But, now, you're getting ready to separate. A question we hear often from separating servicemembers is, "What do I need to do to give me the best chance of getting my VA claim granted?"
It's the right question to ask. The answer may be a little difficult to swallow. After all, the military teaches us to suck-it-up and discourages seeking medical treatment.
But the number one best thing you can do is simple:
Go to the service medical providers and ensure that everything that is wrong with you is documented in your service medical records before you separate.
That's it. Just one thing: Complain.
The reason is simple. It is much easier to prove that you had a disability, or symptoms of a disability, during service if those disabilities are diagnosed or symptoms of those disabilities are recorded in your official service medical records.
That just makes sense, doesn't it?
Don't fall into the trap of over-thinking what a disability is. You don't have to be in a wheelchair or take high-powered medications to be disabled. Hearing loss and ringing in the ears can be disabilities. So can low back pain. And flat feet. And high blood pressure. And chronic headaches. And depression and anxiety. And, believe it or not, snoring can be a symptom of an obstructive sleep apnea disability. Even conditions that you treat with over the counter medications (like heartburn) can be VA-recognized disabilities!
So, suck up your pride. Talk to your friends and family about how they've seen you suffer. Be honest and candid with your medical professionals, even if it is embarrassing. Ask that they document everything you complain about. This is not the time to minimize or underreport how often and how long you suffer or how severe your symptoms are (but don't exaggerate either).
Will doing this guarantee that VA will grant your compensation claim? No, of course not. But trust me. Having that information in your official records will make it much easier for VA to grant your claim than if those complaints and diagnoses are not recorded.