A buddy letter is something that can certainly help a VA Disability claim. I included a sample template of what we send to our Veterans who have a family member, friend, or fellow Veteran they served with who are willing to write a letter to support their claim. Also, we included a sample buddy letter for their reference.
Dear (buddy letter author's name)
My name is Attorney David Pinyerd and I am helping VETERAN with his VA Disability appeal. He mentioned you would be willing to write a supporting letter for his claim, also called a "Buddy Letter" for VA disability purposes. I wanted to provide some general direction of the letter and I also included a sample buddy letter. If you have questions about this or anything else, please contact our office. Thank you for your assistance!
First, it is very important to indicate how you know VETERAN, if you served with him, when you served with him, at what capacity, what did you witness, and when you spoke to him last. It is important for the descriptions of the traumatic events VETERAN witnessed to be in detail and what you saw in his behavior, if there was a change after those events.
Regarding the format, if you choose, you can write the letter on your own letterhead or use VA Form 21-4138 "Statement in Support of Claim." The VA will accept either format, but either way, we will need your full name, address, phone number, and email included with your buddy letter. Also, please sign and date the letter. Buddy statements are admissible and considered in accordance with the VA’s Rules and Regulations. Even with that said, if you choose to use your own letterhead, please include the following before your signature and date: I certify under penalties of perjury my letter is accurate to the best of my knowledge (then sign and date).
In addition to the foregoing details, please be sure it includes who was involved in the events, a detailed description, a location, date and time (estimate if needed), a comparison of VETERAN's behavior before and after the events, details on how you observed he was impacted, any treatment you are aware of, and any changes in physical or mental health that you observed.
Here is an example letter you can use as a reference when you write the buddy letter:
“To whom it may concern,
My name is John Doe, and I am the brother of veteran [Insert Veteran’s Name]. I am writing this statement on behalf of [Insert Veteran’s Name].
I have known [Insert Veteran’s Name] for his entire life, and we currently live in the same town. I spend time with [Insert Veteran’s Name] three to four times per week.
Prior to [Insert Veteran’s Name]’s deployment to Iraq, he was a happy, kind, and energetic person. He did not show signs of anger, irritability, or anxiety before his time in the service.
Following [Insert Veteran’s Name]’s discharge from active duty in Iraq, I noticed a significant change in his behavior. [Insert Veteran’s Name] displayed angry outbursts about three times per week. He has trouble sleeping, and speaks to me regularly about his panic attacks. [Insert Veteran’s Name] has also spoken to me about his mental health issues, including flashbacks to his time in active duty service. These symptoms have affected [Insert Veteran’s Name]’s ability to hold a job, spend time with his family, and enjoy daily life.
[Insert Veteran’s Name]’s PTSD symptoms have persisted, and he still experiences symptoms today. I believe that his post-traumatic stress disorder resulted from the mental stress of combat and active duty. By signing below, I certify under penalties of perjury my letter is accurate to the best of my knowledge (then sign and date).
(Buddy letter author)
Each case is different. This is a general template that can be used to get a good start on a buddy letter. It is always advisable to discuss this with your Attorney as well to be sure you are obtaining the evidence and perspective that is needed. If you have any questions about buddy letters or Veterans Disability applications/appeals, you can call our office at 317-348-1800 and ask to speak to Attorney Brandon Newberry. Thank you for your service!