I’m probably the next to last person who should be writing a blog about how important friendships are. (Pretty sure Judas was worse at friendship than I am.) I tend to hold people to high standards, and this means I have to go to movies by myself a lot. However, from my experience working with VA claims, I know how important it is to stay connected with the people you served with.
From a mental standpoint, it’s always great to connect with people who have shared experiences. This is especially true when it comes to combat situations. A lot of PTSD counseling involves group therapy as it tends to make people feel more at ease. In this modern time, we find that social media plays a big part in staying touch as well. There are countless groups on Facebook that are dedicated to Veterans sharing their experiences and staying in touch with their fellow soldiers.
I have also seen units within the military starting Facebook pages. For instance, in Parkersburg, we have the 1092nd Engineer Battalion. They have a Facebook page. They post a lot of photos, and really keep current Guardsmen and Veterans who served in that Battalion, up to date and in touch.
Something I really like are these modern organizations for Veterans that stray away from the norm. A lot of Veterans Organizations are oriented towards older Vets. Individuals who served more recently aren’t likely to join that type of club. Instead, they want something that is a more involved and goes beyond traditional activities. Steel City Vets is one of those organizations that go beyond the norm. According to their website, “Steel City Vets is a group of OEF/OIF Veterans from the Greater Pittsburgh/Western Pennsylvania areas. We strive to provide a group that Veterans can turn to for peer support and social gatherings as well as provide a hub to share information on news and events affecting the Veterans of the area.” I have personally worked with this group and believe what they are doing is great. That is of course with the exception of attending Pittsburgh Steelers games. Go Texans!
However, another reason to stay in touch with your fellow soldiers is that they may be able to help your claim. When it comes to your disability, a “buddy statement” can be one of the most helpful pieces of evidence. We use these statements a lot in MST and PTSD cases, but we can also use them for physical injuries too. For instance, if someone you served with can verify your combat mission, or recall the time you hurt your shoulder, their testimony will be very valuable to your case.
It’s not just your friends though. Family members can provide valuable information too. If you were married or dating someone before you went to combat, and they can attest to your behavior change, this will help with a PTSD claim. The same applies to parents, siblings etc.
Overall, the friends you make in service will share something with you that few others will ever experience. Keep in touch with those people. If you would like to learn more about buddy statements, or talk to me about your case, call me toll free-1-877-526-3457. Fill out this form, and I’ll be happy to give you a call.
One last thing…I’m always in awe of the friendships and loyalties of individuals who serve. It’s something that is missing in the civilian world. It makes sense that most of the people I call “friend” are Veterans.