What is a “buddy statement” and how can it help you win your VA disability claim?

When you file a disability claim with the VA it’s critical to provide evidence to back up your claim.  One type of evidence is a “Statement in Support of Claim” or more as it is more commonly known, “a buddy statement”.  This letter can provide important evidence that substantiates the location of the event that caused your disability, when the event occurred, and details about the incident. Typically, there are two types of buddy statements you can provide with your claim: those written by military co-workers and those written by friends and family members. While each type of statement has a different purpose and focus, both can be beneficial for your claim. An accredited Veteran's lawyer can help identify the issues that you need to prove with your statement.

Sometimes, events that take place in combat are never recorded by a military unit. Veterans involved in those events may find it challenging to file a claim about a disability which began because of that event. Having a co-worker buddy statement from someone who experienced the event alongside you or witnessed your involvement can be very helpful. It should detail as much as possible about the event—how it impacted you, any change in behavior or physical health, and the type of treatment you needed. 

A buddy statement from friends and family members will be quite different.  Because these people didn’t serve in the military with you, the focus of their letters is on how the disability has impacted your life and relationships. Typically, the content will detail your personality characteristics before your military service and compare them to how you are now. The letter should pinpoint changes in behavior, how the disability impacts your daily life and activities, and if the disability has negatively impacted the relationships you have with your spouse, children, and friends.

There’s no standard way to write a buddy statement, but here are five guidelines that can help make the statement credible and provide support for your VA disability claim.

One, keep it short. Keep the letter to one page and just include significant facts and details—don’t send a book.  

Two, include contact information. Anyone writing a buddy letter should include their full contact information, your full name, and the date.

Three, use the VA form. The buddy statement writer can hand-write or type the statement on the VA form. However, it’s completely acceptable to submit a buddy letter on a normal, letter-sized piece of paper.

Four, include a closing statement. The buddy letter writer should include a statement to add credibility to their claims. If the author isn’t using the standard VA form they should include this sentence at the end of the statement: “I certify that my statements are true and correct to the best of my knowledge and belief.”

And five, don’t spoon-feed the author. Don’t tell them what you want to have written about you. The author needs to write in their own words and should never make up or exaggerate facts and details.

If you are seeking VA disability benefits for a service-related illness or condition, we can help you navigate the complex VA disability process including guidance on how to get the right buddy statements. Contact us for a free evaluation of your situation. At Cuddigan Law you have a team of professionals on your side who will fight for your rights
Sean D. Cuddigan
SSA and VA Disability Attorney in Omaha, Nebraska