Contents:Document List for Filing a VA Claim
Following is a list of documents and information you will probably need as part of a claim for VA benefits. Even if you can not obtain all of the information right away, you should still submit your claim.
If you believe that you have been harmed in anyway through your military experience, you have the right to file a claim for treatment and compensation with the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). A claim can be filed at any time and there is never a charge to file a claim. You can submit your claim to any VA office or medical center on VA Form 21-256. It can also be done by mail, after requesting the appropriate forms from the VA or the RAO. Most telephone directories will list the nearest VA facilities under "US Government." Or, you can get most information online at: Department of Veteran Affairs (VA). Assistance of a Veterans Service Officer (VSO) may also be sought. In fact, it is encouraged. All major veterans’ organizations (American Legion, VFW, AMVETS, etc) have service officers authorized by the VA to act in behalf of the veteran. In addition, many state and county government agencies have VSO's. Once again, there is never a charge for the assistance of the VSO. If you feel that your claim is not being handled properly, you should not hesitate to find a different VSO to assist. In some cases individuals other than veterans can use VA services.
Veterans who live in foreign countries other than the Philippines file their claims with the Washington Regional Office (WRO) at 1120 Vermont Avenue N.W. Washington D.C., DC 20421. If the WRO feels your claim is valid they will order an exam. It is the responsibly of claimants residing overseas to meet the exam date and travel to the location designated at their own expense. The Philippines is the only VA regional Office overseas and handles disability claims for veterans residing in the Philippines only. If the WRO feels your claim is valid they will order an exam. On rare occasions at the request of veterans outside the RP the PRO will attempt to conduct Compensation and Pension examinations. However, it becomes complicated because the ordering of the exam must come to PRO from the WRO and coordinating a response from that office has historically been difficult. The normal procedure is for WRO to arrange for the exam through the US Embassy in the country where the veteran is residing. The results of the exam are returned to the WRO and adjudication of the claim takes place back there. If for some reason the exam is decided to be coordinated through the PRO the only reimbursement you would receive is for your travel expense within the Philippines.
Retirees are encouraged to establish their eligibility by enrolling with the VA. With the cutbacks in Military Treatment Facilities (MTF) and the uncertainty of TRICARE services, VA should always be considered in your fall back plans. There will be a Means Test. Amazingly, less than one-third of eligible veterans and retirees use the VA.
[Source: Soldiers For the Truth Newsletter JUN 00 & VARO Manila]