Creating and increasing your VA claim all starts with documentation. This blog will tell you the 3 easiest ways to get your injuries or illnesses documented while on active duty without having to go out of your way to medical.
Regardless of your branch of service, everyone can relate to being on a medical hitlist. This is a massive headache for all parties involved. Everyone from the 1stSgt who has to track people down to the individual on the hit list who is overdue for something even to the medic/Corpsman who has to push out the lists. It may not be obvious but your ability to document begins with that list.
PHAs or Periodic Health Assessments. Everyone has to do one every year, PHAs are a service requirement and will most likely be due in your birth month. This is one of the easiest ways to document your ongoing injuries. How many times in one enlistment period do you get a physical evaluation performed by a Doctor? Generally speaking, it’s once every 5 years. If you do one enlistment you may never actually speak with your physician. PHA’s are designed FOR THIS REASON! Most individuals, myself included, look at PHAs as just a annoying formality, but they are not.
There is a section of the PHA that is specifically designed for ongoing issues. That is your opportunity to get whatever is wrong with you documented. The military is moving away from paper documentation and moving PHAs to a completely electronic format. The electronic copy will automatically populate in your electronic medical record. If you have a paper copy, scan it and keep it so you can include it in your VA claim.
PDHAs or Pre-Deployment Health Assessments. This is another requirement for all services. These are completed online generally 90 days before a deployment. In my experience, most people choose not to document any injuries because they are afraid that they may get kicked off the deployment. Let me be clear, I have known someone that deployed with a prosthetic eye, broken bones and severe nerve impingements that were causing muscular atrophy. I’m confident that if you put down that your ankle hurts or knee hurts or that you have headaches, your unit is still going to take you on deployment. Do not worry about making deployment, if something is bothering you document it.
PDHA. Post-Deployment Health Assessment. This assessment is generally completed within 30 days of returning from a deployment. These are completed by anyone who has deployed whether on ship, or on the ground. This is another opportunity for you to say “hey, the injury that I documented before deployment is still bothering me” or “I’ve developed an injury and it was made worse when I was performing my job”.
PDHRAs or Post-Deployment Health Reassessments. These are done between 90-120 days after returning from deployment. This is the last deployment related assessment and the last opportunity to truly tie your injury/illness to your deployment. If you do not document it here or on the previous assessments you will have a challenging time explaining to a medical provider in the future that you incurred an injury on deployment.
The mindset towards these assessments is the real problem. We can shift the view of these from being bullshit requirements to meaningful medical documentation. This documentation CAN be used as supporting documentation in your VA claim. Start documenting now.