Whether you are an active duty service member years away from separation or transitioning tomorrow, the Department of Veterans Affairs’ benefits and services are available to you at every stage of your military career.
The VA’s mission statement is derived from President Abraham Lincoln’s famous words: "To care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan" by serving and honoring the men and women who are America's veterans.
“We believe that no service member leaves the military unchanged, and that every veteran has given some of themselves to some degree,” said LaShaunne Moore, a Disabled American Veterans (DAV) advocate with the Veteran Affairs Office on Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune. “The VA has promised to ensure veterans receive care and compensation for injuries incurred through service. The DAV ensures this promise is kept.”
At the VA Office, located on MCB Camp Lejeune, the staff will directly help service members set up their VA benefits claims. Service members should come prepared with information needed to complete their claims including: service treatment records (digital or paper copy), non-government medical records (during period of active service), social security numbers, date and place of marriage, birth records for dependents, direct deposit information and copies of any prior DD-214s.
“We are here to help military members make the transition to civilian life, and we offer a range of no-cost programs and services to help make it easier for them and their families,” Moore said. “This includes a thorough review of service medical records to identify conditions that can be claimed for VA disability compensation and health benefits; assistance in completing those claims and representation throughout the entire decision process; counseling on additional VA benefits like housing and education; and more than 160 in-person and online job fairs for transitioning military members and spouses.”
Moore recommends service members come in to get their claim submitted as early as possible because the process can not only take time, but it also helps ensure they get care for any conditions they may currently have. The process also ensures service members are familiar with and can access all of the other VA benefits that can help during the transition process.
For example, if a service member submits a claim within 180-90 days before your EAS and 45 days before taking terminal leave, the claim application and exams can be completed before you go on terminal leave. If you come in between the 90 and one day mark before the EAS, the application will be completed. However, the exams will be completed after your EAS, taking place at a location near the service member’s forwarding address.
“Some military members are hesitant to file a claim, but having a VA disability rating does not necessarily mean you will receive compensation; sometimes it just means it is documented as service-connected in case the condition worsens over time,” Moore said. “The service member is ultimately in charge of their claim, but DAV representatives are here to guide them through the process and advocate for them from start to finish.”
For more information on filing a VA Disability Claim contact the VA Office located on 501 N Street Camp Lejeune, NC at 451-0801 or visit www.va.gov.