A Game Plan For Dealing With The VA

You’ve just retired (or separated) from military service. Congratulations! What are you going to do next?
The fairytale-ending answer to that question is, “I’m going to Disney World!” For most of us, the real-life answer is, “I guess I need to get in touch with the VA.”
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is the federal agency charged with assisting veterans in making the transition from military to civilian life. But dealing with the VA can be a frustrating experience for many veterans. So how can you work around the usual roadblocks to get the service you deserve – and to which you are legally entitled? It all starts with having the right game plan.
Your first step is to obtain a copy of your Official Military Personnel File from the National Personnel Records Center in St. Louis. Your file contains a wealth of information, documents, and official forms related to your service, which may be helpful when making a claim. Keep the file and all paperwork you receive and make copies of anything you need to submit. Click here for information and a link to the online request form,.
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 Next, reach out to your local Veterans Service Officer (VSO). Your VSO can answer questions, advise you on your benefits, assist you in completing forms and filing claims, and even represent you in a VA hearing. Your regional or state VA office can put you in touch with your local VSO.

Then learn the process details for the type of service or claim you need to make. Start by having a clear picture of what you need. Are you filing for education benefits? Applying for a VA loan? Seeking medical care for a service-related injury? The VA administers a range of benefits and each program carries its own set of rules and requirements. Find out up front what the end-to-end process is, get an idea of how long it will take, and what specific actions you need to take.
When you’re ready to make your claim, be sure to file the correct paperwork. You’ve served in the military so you already know that paperwork is King (or Queen, and sometimes just a twisted Joker). Sending in the wrong form can cause your request to be delayed or rejected.
To help bolster your case, include documentation to prove the validity of your claim. The names and numbers of official discharge certificates and documents could fill a bowl of alphabet soup. Your military record may contain the documents you need. If not, you can use this link to submit a military records request using milConnect.
Once your request has been received and accepted, it will work its way through the process. Nothing moves at the speed of light in the world of government, so be prepared to be patient. If additional hurdles pop up, your VSO can help you work around any issues. When the process works as intended, you’ll get the result you need.

RINO INVEST partners with a number of Financial Advisors and other professionals who are current or former members of the U.S. Armed Services. If you have questions about your military pay or veteran’s benefits, reach out to us. We’re always ready to provide expert financial advice to our fellow servicemembers.

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