Veterans Corner: The basic steps to a VA claim


By Raymond Taylor
Archuleta County Veterans Service Office

The veterans service officer’s duty is to assist the veteran in putting together the best claim possible, to ensure receipt, review and the highest disability rating afforded by law.

 Step No. 1: The claim must be a service-connected injury or illness that occurred or was aggravated while on active duty. You must have medical documentation showing you were treated while on active duty.

Exceptions: Presumptive conditions, file claim or receive treatment with one year of date of discharge.

Step No. 2: You must have an existing disability. Medical documentation showing that today the disability exists. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) currently looks at medical documentation of up to one year from today (current diagnosis).

Step No 3: The bridge (or nexus) between step 1 and 2, connect how the disability is related. Medical records, discharge (DD-214), and doctor letters stating that the two steps are connected.

Then comes the submission of all documents and forms to the VA, of the best claim possible.

Step No. 4: The veterans administration with put the claim together and order a compensation exam (C&P exam). You must attend this exam or the claim will be denied for “failure to report to exam.”

Step No. 5: The VA adjudicates the claim and either awards or denies benefits.

If the VA denies the claim or veteran wants to dispute the award, the appeal process will then begin.

Vets4Vets grant

The Vets4Vets has received a grant from the Colorado Department of Military and Veteran Affairs. This is to support veterans in our community through the following assistance: housing, utilities, mental health counseling, dental services, travel assistance, automobile repairs, gas and food cards and emergency veteran assistance. 

Contact Vets4Vets at (970) 799-VETS or

Contact information

Veterans: Thank you for your service. Welcome home.

For further information on VA benefits, please call or stop by the Archuleta County Veterans Service Office (VSO), located at the Pagosa Springs Senior Center in the Ross Aragon Community Center on Hot Springs Boulevard.

The office: 264-4013, fax number: 264-4014, and email is Bring your DD Form 214 (discharge) for applications to VA programs or benefits for which the veteran may be entitled to enroll, and for filing in the Archuleta County VSO. Always leave a message and phone number to contact you.

The following veterans groups meet in Pagosa Springs:

• American Legion Post 108: second Wednesday of the month at 6 p.m., 287 Hermosa St.

• Veterans for Veterans: every Tuesday at 10 a.m., Episcopal Church, 225 S. Pagosa Blvd.

• Combat Veterans PTSD Group: every other Tuesday at noon, Community United Methodist Church, Lewis Street. Contact Gary Hanneman at 946-2540.

• Women’s Group of Spouses of Veterans: first and third Wednesdays at 5:30 p.m., Dr. Carter’s office; contact Charlotte at 903-9690.

Important information

• 799-VETS,

• Durango VA Outpatient Clinic: 247-2214.

• Farmington VA Center: (505) 326-4383.

• VAMC Albuquerque, N.M.: (800) 465-8262.

• VA Health Care Emergency Notification: (844) 724-7842.

The Veterans Crisis Line offers free, confidential support to veterans in crisis, as well as their family and friends 24/7/365. Call (800) 273-8255, chat online or text 838255.