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Transition to Civilian Life: Navigating Your VA BDD Claim

Empowering Veterans to Advocate for Their Benefits, One Medical Record Inspection at a Time.


In this comprehensive guide, we will dissect the fundamental steps that service members must follow when filing a VA BDD claim. Drawing from my personal experiences during my transition to civilian life, I’ll narrate the challenges and insights gained from dealing with not one, not two, but three distinct VSOs (Veterans Service Officers). These experiences were instrumental in revealing the significance of approaching your claim with precision and care. If you seek further guidance, do not hesitate to get in touch with us for additional tips and support.

Step 1: Go to Medical, Time Now!

When filing a VA disability claim, you need to have three crucial elements: a diagnosis, symptoms, and a service connection. These pieces of information are the building blocks of your claim.

Step 2: Be Prepared

My journey began when I started preparing to leave active duty. During the transition process, I was advised to file a VA disability claim. As a nurse, I took the task seriously and collected all the medical information I needed. I marked up my medical records and created a clear document to present to the VSO.

Step 3: Meet with a VSO

During my first meeting with a VSO, I was eager to explain my medical history and provide detailed information. However, the VSO had other plans. Instead of focusing on the details of my condition, they suggested filing a claim with vague descriptions like “left knee pain” or “right shoulder pain.” I was concerned about missing out on crucial information, and I knew that I needed to change my approach.

Step 4: Stand Your Ground

I realized that I needed to file my claim based on specific diagnoses. I wanted to tell my medical story thoroughly and provide the exact diagnosis and symptoms I was experiencing. The VSO was not thrilled with this approach, but I understood the importance of doing it my way. I didn’t want to compromise on the quality of my claim.

Step 5: Ask Questions

Unsatisfied with my first VSO experience, I decided to reach out to two other VSOs to see if they would support my approach. I asked them two key questions:

  1. Could I file the claim the way I wanted to, based on diagnoses?
  2. Would they help me tell my medical story comprehensively, considering all the medical records and evidence?

Both VSOs were more accommodating to my approach, which gave me confidence in my decision.

Step 6: Understand What Service Connection is.

For service members still on active duty, understanding the service connection is crucial. This connection is often made through a medical diagnosis, and the importance of getting a clear diagnosis cannot be overstated. This is the core of your claim, and it’s vital to make this connection before your transition to civilian life.

Empowering Veterans to Advocate for Their Benefits, One Medical Record Inspection at a Time.


When filing a VA disability claim, remember the three essential components: a diagnosis, symptoms, and a service connection. The service connection is particularly vital for active-duty service members to establish before they transition to civilian life. Take ownership of your claim, prepare your medical records, and engage with your VSO to ensure you present your medical story the way you want it to be heard. Don’t compromise on the quality of your claim. The process may seem daunting, but it’s essential to get it right the first time. These tips will help you during your transition to civilian life.

By following these steps and being proactive in your claim, you can increase your chances of a successful and fair outcome. Transitioning from active duty can be challenging, but with the right approach, you can ensure that your VA disability claim process goes smoothly and successfully.