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Can "buddy" statements actually hurt your claim?

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Got a veteran who is filing for SC sleep apnea. He's already had his sleep study done, diagnosis is "Severe Obstructive Sleep Apnea"

Vet also has a VERY well written Nexus letter and DBQ from a prominent sleep study professional, which includes the famous "more likely than not" entry that connects his sleep apnea to active duty. The sleep study professional IS NOT a VA employee, and is a Ph.D., NOT an MD.

Considering the veteran has the Nexus letter and DBQ, are buddy letters really necessary since they actually had little contact with the veteran while they were in the same unit for a SHORT period of time?

Will the fact that the sleep study professional is NOT an MD also hurt the veteran's claim?

As a footnote, this is a veteran who's ENTIRE C file, including all sleeves, is only a few pages long, and doesn't shed light on ANY early indicators of sleep apnea, i.e., snoring, coughs, frequent colds....ZERO ZILCH.

Comments, opinions, questions..?



2-2-0 HUAH!



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If the sleep study professional based his/her nexus statement on something he/she found with the veteran's SMRs, or 201 file , that would sure be a valid nexus.

I have only seen buddy statements hurt a veterans claim twice-in 30 years.

The first situation was the famous Keith Roberts case. Roberts ended up in prison.

The second situation was a veteran member here, who (I used to have my email public) who actually asked me,in email,  to write a buddy statement for him.

I am a civilian and a female, and there were no women aboard ships in the days when he wanted the statement to reveal an 'eye witness account' of his behavior while aboard a Navy ship.

I was outraged because, as critical of VA as I have been for decades, I will never allow someone to lie to the VA and it sure will never be me. 

Oddly enough many , many years after that he won his claim at the BVA. He had by then 3 buddy statements and BVA found all of them to be inconsistent and of little value, but something in his SMRs revealed to BVA 

 what  the nexus he needed was.....

I also was contacted by someone here in email once regarding a CAVC case. The actual circumstances were completely different from their  "facts" and they tried to draw me into an illegal matter,  that  I reported them to the CAVC and I gave the CAVC the evidence I had from the VA itself.The CAVC case which had apparantly been remanded was closed immediately.It invovled 2 buddy letters which VA had already found to be 


But 99.9% of all vets would never hurt a claim with a valid statement and oath that it is true.


It is always possible this vet you are helping could try to find a buddy statement.

But if the SMRs revealed a nexus to the Sleep study doc and he prepared the IME properly ,the vet might well have enough evidence to succeed.

I assume he has no VA disability that the SA could be found as secondary to?



Edited by Berta

GRADUATE ! Nov 2nd 2007 American Military University !

When thousands of Americans faced annihilation in the 1800s Chief

Osceola's response to his people, the Seminoles, was

simply "They(the US Army)have guns, but so do we."

Sameo to us -They (VA) have 38 CFR ,38 USC, and M21-1- but so do we.

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You asked about a Phd nexus.  This depends on what the degree is in.  If his Phd is in sleep apnea, and he treats patients for it, then its a valid nexus.  However, if his Phd is in criminology, and he has no training or experience in diagnosis or treatment of sleep apnea, then his statements wont be probative as he would not be an "expert witness" in your claim.  Its not enough to have a dr. degree..it must be in the field of question for an expert witness.  

Since you said he was a "prominent sleep study professional" this nexus should provide the requisite evidence PROVIDED THAT he gave a reasons and bases as to "why" he came to the nexus conclusion.  The VA can reject "unreasoned" nexus.  

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  • HadIt.com Elder

I think  a lot of the buddy statements depends if they read them and how well written out they are .

if they knew him in his old unit and writes a small summary of how they knew him and about his OSA or sleep disturbance pattern from observing  that he actually kept them awake at night from him snoring and what knot!

keep the letter short and to the point....buddy letters are only good if they read them and the letters they can be verified by unit and unit locations dates, names of command would help  like the C.O. or NCO in charge. this way they can check out his unit.

As for as a medical professional opine  he really needs a  certified specialist in this field to give a professional opinion & that he read pertaint medical evidence in his str's to the fact he had sleep disturbance of some type.

   without the proper credentials from a medical professional,  in my opinion he will be denied for that reason alone.

Everything sounds good but the opinion is coming from a non medical professional  and that's a no no to the VA Raters.

other than what I just mention  he can go ahead file and see what they say ?  this is just my opinion and experience.


Edited by Buck52

I am not an Attorney or VSO, any advice I provide is not to be construed as legal advice, therefore not to be held out for liable BUCK!!!

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The "buddy letter" MAY be necessary to establish an "in service event".  That is, the "buddy" could testify you snored loudly, and is generally competent to opine about obvious syptoms.  

As always, you need the Caluza triangle documented.  

1.  Current diagnosis.  A "buddy letter" can not provide a diagnosis, this must be made by a sleep apnea professional. 

2.  In service event or aggravation.  A buddy letter is useful here because you have to establish an in service event, or, maybe in service symptoms of sleep apnea. 

3.  A nexus, linking numbers one and 2 needs to be made by a "competent medical professional" who has experience and or training in sleep apnea.  He need not be a MD, VA uses NP's or PA's to do c and p exams all the time.  

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As Berta pointed out, the buddy letters need to be factual and honest, and not exaggerations.  The Board will consider if the buddy letter is consistent with the medical reports, and it should be.  

For example, your buddy could say you snored, but if your medical professional said you had Central Sleep apnea which does not cause snoring like OSA, then you have a problem with the buddy letter credibility, and his statements may be deemed not probative.  

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The Board has a duty to evaluate lay statements and determine whether or not they are probative.  The board can deny based upon a buddy statment, but they must give their reasons for rejecting the buddy letter.  A valid reason could be that the buddy letter was inconsistent with the facts of the case.  This is why the buddy letter should be factual, as the Board will likely be comparing the buddy statements with other evidence, and may well reject it if its inconsistent.  

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