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Good Afternoon,

I submitted a claim back in 2013 and literally have been doing the back and forth since. I finally received my letter of denial 2 weeks ago. During this time, the VA has been setting me up appointments for care and I had attended each one of my appointments. My claim was for COPD, knee and back pain. Of course I barely have anything in my medical records related to this and the VA said that I should follow through with care provided by the VA.

My question is, should I avoid getting care by the VA and what is a good way to service connect if I do not have it in my records? I went into the Marine Corps running a constant 18 min PT test for the first 3 years and deployed, I came back and ran my first PT test upon returning from deployment and ran it in 23 min. Ever since deployment my cardio has dwindled to the point I feel drained/dizzy. I went to medical on a few occasions and they kept blaming it on weight gain. I went from 145ish from entry to 165ish this current point. I was always with the unit doing PT and did PT on my off time.

I was artillery, so I did a lot of jumping in and out of the back of the 7-tons and lots of heavy lifting so I have had my share of back tweaks and knee issues but again it was frowned upon to even go to medical for the flu.

Thanks in advance!

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Wow.  Apply in 2013, denied in 2017.   So much for their claims of completing claims in 125 days.  Unfortunately, your appeal is unlikely to be completed this quickly.  Appeals to the BVA are about 5 more years AFTER:

1.  The RO sends you an SOC (this takes an average of about 419 days)

2.  YOU file the I9, and the RO "certifies" it to the BVA which takes about 500 more days.  

Now, you can begin the 5 year wait for the BVA.  

Source:  BVA chairmans report, 2015, here:


I mention this reality "just in case" your VSO makes or lets you think your BVA appeal will be done in 3 months to a year, and so you dont start counting on money from a BVA appeal...at least not until about year 2023 or 2024.  

Now, to answer your questions:

1.  No, dont avoid getting care at VA (as far as benefits goes).  

2.  The best way to "service connect" is to follow the "VA way" to the letter.  You need all 3 caluza elements documented in your file:

a.  Current diagnosis.

b.  In service event or aggravation.  A private doctor can not provide you with documetnation of an in service event.  This has to be found in your records.  There are a few exceptions, such as "presumptives".  

c.  Nexus or medical link between your current diagnosis and the in service event.  

     A private (or VA) doc can provide a current diagnosis, if you dont have one, or they can provide a medical nexus.  But they can not provide an "in service event".  

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You need to write a statement to support your claim for each condition you are claiming.  Whether it was diagnosed in the military may not matter completely.  Example, if you know you went to the doctor while on active duty due to a consistent cough that would not go away or because of any other symptoms that could have been due to COPD, then state what those symptoms were.  State what the doctor said.  What medication was given to you. How long has it lasted and that you still have the problem now.  For your knee and your back, state what you were doing when you first hurt your knee and your back.  You were jumping on and off of trucks unloading equipment or supplies and you either hurt your knee and back or over time your knee and back began to hurt and it still continues to hurt now. Request an exam if they need further verification from a VA doctor.  Make them understand that these disabilities exist and how exactly they began.

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