A veteran’s C-File and other medical records are some of the most important parts of a VA disability application.
When you’re ready to file a claim for VA disability benefits you’re going to discover you need a lot of paperwork. You need to show evidence of what happened in your service record, as well as a variety of medical records. One of the most important documents you’ll need is your military medical record.
You may be wondering, “How can I obtain my military medical records?” In most cases, this will be a fairly straightforward process that you can handle from the comfort of your own home. Read on to learn more about your military medical records and how you can get your hands on them.
In this article about medical records and your VA disability application:
- What Do Your Military Medical Records Include?
- Why You Need Your Medical Records
- Proving a Service Connection
- When to Bring Your Medical Records
- Where Are Your Records?
- The St. Louis Fire
- Reconstructing Medical Records
- Getting a My HealtheVet Account
- VA Blue Button
- Eligibility for VA Blue Button
- Getting Your Medical Records from Blue Button
- Security Concerns
- Requesting Medical Records by Mail
- Veterans Health Information Exchange
- Your Answer for “How Can I Obtain My Military Medical Records?”
What Do Your Military Medical Records Include?
Your military-medical records include a complete accounting of all medical treatment you received while in the military. This may include routine physical exams, check-ups, prescription refills, and basic medical care. It can also include outpatient procedures, prescriptions, and treatment plans for non-threatening illnesses or minor injuries.
However, your military medical records will also contain information about more serious illnesses or injuries. They can contain information about if you were injured in combat and how you were treated afterward. They may also reveal patterns of developing conditions or prove you received bad treatment while you were in the service.
Why You Need Your Medical Records
Your medical records are important to have on hand for your future medical treatment. If you have a certain injury or condition, your doctor will need to know what sort of treatment you’ve received in the past. A small incident during your military service could change your diagnosis and save your life.
But your military medical records will also be crucial if you ever intend to apply for VA disability benefits compensation. As we discuss more in a moment, you’ll need to prove a connection between your military service and your condition. Your military-medical records will be the evidence you need to get your claim approved.
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Proving a Service Connection
When you apply for VA disability benefits, you’ll need to do three things. You’ll have to have an official diagnosis of your condition, be able to point to an incident in your service record that caused your condition, and have an official medical nexus linking the two. This second step is when your military medical records will come in.
When you apply for VA disability, your military medical records will show if you were treated for an injury and how. They can also show the beginnings of chronic conditions, including mental health conditions. You may also need your military service record to prove things like exposure to Agent Orange or service in certain combat zones.
When to Bring Your Medical Records
When you’re ready to start your VA disability application process, one of the first things you’ll want to do is get your medical records. It’s a good idea to bring them with you to any medical appointments you have related to the application process. This can help your doctor provide a more accurate diagnosis and move your application process along faster.
If you’re getting your official diagnosis from your family doctor, bring your military medical records along with you to the appointment. It’s also a good idea to have them around when you go for a C&P exam as part of your claims process. Any time you have to manage your claim after it’s approved or during the appeals process, you’ll want to have these records on hand.
Where Are Your Records?
If you’ve ever wondered, “Does the VA have my military medical records?” the answer is yes.
You may be wondering where these records you’re chasing down are stored. That answer depends on which branch of the military you were in and when you served.
If you left the military between 1994 and 2013, chances are your records are stored at the VA Records Management Center, which serves as the VA medical records department. If you left after January 1, 2014, your records will be stored with your branch.
Army records will be at the AMEDD Record Processing Center. Navy and Marine Corps records will be at the BUMED Navy Records Activity center. Air Force Records will be at the AF STR Processing Center.
If you served before 1994, your records may be housed with the National Personnel Records Center.
The St. Louis Fire
In 1973, the National Personnel Records Center in St. Louis, MO, experienced a devastating fire. The fire broke out a little after midnight on July 22, 1973. It took twenty-two hours for firefighters to get the blaze under control, and the flames didn’t subside enough for firefighters to enter the building for two days.
Between sixteen and eighteen million individual military records were lost in the fire – about 80 percent of Army records and 75 percent of Air Force records. Veterans who served between 1912 and 1964 lost their service records. And while the NPRC worked hard to reconstruct these records, if you served in the Army or Air Force before 1964, chances are your original record was lost.
Reconstructing Medical Records
Luckily, the records at the St. Louis center weren’t the only records the VA had for veterans who served before 1964. The NPRC can search certain auxiliary documents stored at other facilities to reconstruct at least a basic record for you. You’ll need to begin by filling out the National Archives request for information form.
You’ll need to provide the National Archives with information about your service including which unit, company, battalion, regiment, squadron, group, and/or wing you served with. When you apply for VA disability compensation, you should also include as much other documentation of your service as possible. You’ll need to submit NA Form 13055 along with your standard VA claims form.
Getting a My HealtheVet Account
These days, most veterans can access their military medical records through the My HealtheVet platform. This web portal allows you to manage all your VA medical needs, including getting your hands on your medical records. You can refill VA prescriptions, track upcoming medical appointments, communicate with your VA healthcare team, and more.
When you register for a My HealtheVet account, you’ll need to specify your relationship to the VA – patient, veteran, veteran advocate, or family member, etc. You’ll need to provide your name, date of birth, social security number, and other identifying information. You’ll also need to set up a username, password, and set of security questions.
VA Blue Button
Once you have a My HealtheVet account, you’ll be able to access VA Blue Button. This is a feature in the My HealtheVet portal that gives you access to your military medical records. You can download, print, and share information from your military and personal medical records all in one simple location.
In the VA Blue Button, you can download customized reports with information from your military medical record. You can also upload your personal medical record so everything you need to give your health provider is stored in one place. You can even use online journals to track your vital signs, diet, and exercise to improve your health outcomes.
When you work with Woods and Woods, The Veteran’s Firm, we handle a lot of this for you. You can still sign up and help us get access to your files, but we’ll walk you through the whole process. We work with veterans every day to get the best application together that we can.
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Eligibility for VA Blue Button
There are a few eligibility requirements you’ll need to meet to use all the features of VA Blue Button. First of all, you must be enrolled in VA health care of some form. You must also be registered as a patient in a VA health facility in order to access these features.
You must have at least one of a few different free accounts in order to access the VA Blue Button. One option is the My HealtheVet accounts we discussed, though you’ll need an Advanced or Premium account. You can also get a Premium DS Logon account or a verified ID.me account on VA.gov.
Getting Your Medical Records from Blue Button
Once you’ve logged onto Blue Button, you’ll see a welcome page dashboard with a Health Records button. Click this and you’ll see a new page where you can manage your medical records. You can choose to access your VA Blue Button report, your VA Health Summary, or your VA Medical Images and Reports.
To download your military medical records, access your VA Medical Images and Reports. You’ll be able to select which reports and images you want to include in your download. For an initial appointment or C&P exam, it’s best to bring along all the information you have.
Here are some tips on your C&P exam from one of our VA disability lawyers.
Naturally, medical records are one of the most sensitive documents on record about you. It’s natural to be nervous about having those records accessible through a web portal. What if someone hacks into your VA Blue Button account and gets access to all your military and personal medical records, as well as who knows what else?
The VA knows how important your medical privacy is, and they follow strict security policies to protect your information. The Blue Button website is secure, you can rest easy knowing your private data is safe. If you download or print any records from the Blue Button portal, you’ll need to be responsible for securing those files.
Requesting Medical Records by Mail
If you aren’t comfortable on a computer or you don’t have internet access, you can request your military medical records by mail. You’ll need to get a copy of Form SF 180 and fill it out if possible. If you can’t get this form, you can write a letter to the NPRC requesting your records. You can also call us and we can mail you a copy from your file with us.
You’ll need to mail Form SF 180 or your letter to the NPRC headquarters at 1 Archives Drive, St. Louis, MO, 63138. If you’re in the St. Louis area, you can also visit the NPRC in person to get your records. You can also contact your local VA office.
Veterans Health Information Exchange
While you’re managing your military medical records, you may want to take a look at the Veterans Health Information Exchange program. This initiative makes it easier for your healthcare providers to get the information they need to provide you with the best possible treatment. It’s an automatic initiative, so if you don’t want your information shared, you’ll need to opt-out.
Thanks to the Veterans Health Information Exchange (VHIE), community providers who are a part of your care team can access your VA health information electronically. This helps you to avoid duplicated tests, improve your continuity of care, and even improve your health outcomes. You also won’t need to worry about carrying your military medical records to every appointment you go to.
If you want to opt-out of VHIE, you can submit VA Form 10-10164 to your VA office’s Release of Information office. You can also opt-out through your My HealtheVet portal. If you opt-out and then decide you’d like to opt back in, you can fill out VA Form 10-10163 and submit it to the ROI office or change your preferences through your portal.
Your Answer for “How Can I Obtain My Military Medical Records?”
Many veterans trying to get VA disability compensation may find themselves asking, “How can I obtain my military medical records?” The simplest way is to set up a My HealtheVet account and access your records through the VA Blue Button portal. If your records were in the St. Louis fire or if you want to submit your request by mail, reach out to the NPRC for help.
If you’d like help getting your military medical records or filing your disability compensation claim, get in touch with us at Woods and Woods, The Veteran’s Firm. We fight for veterans every day, and you don’t pay unless we win. Contact us today and start getting the compensation you’re entitled to today.