The basic steps to a VA claim


By Raymond Taylor | PREVIEW Columnist

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

Step 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 2: You must have an existing disability. Medical documentation showing that today the disability exists. The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) currently looks at medical documentation of up to one year from today (current diagnosis).

Step 3: The bridge (or nexes) 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.

 All documents and forms are submitted to the VA.

Step 4: The VA will 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 5: The VA adjudicates the claim and awards or denies benefits.

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

American Legion Post No. 108 Honor Guard seeking members

Archuleta County veterans and community, Pagosa’s American Legion Post No. 108 Honor Guard is looking for veterans to release our Vietnam veterans of their relentless service to the Honor Guard.

What is the Honor Guard? It’s a “Detail of Veterans, in uniform,” honoring all branches of our military service, the men and women who served and those who were “Killed in Action.” 

This means you need to fit into a uniform of your service. Any individual who participates is not required to belong to any veteran organization. We would enjoy if you chose to, but it is not a requirement. The Honor Guard consists of veterans who have pride in their service and wish to show that pride for others to see. 

The aim is to respectfully honor each deceased veteran and their families for their sacrifice of service with military honors, which includes a minimum of a flag folding presentation to the next of kin or family members. A full service includes a flag folding and three sets of rifle volleys, followed by the playing of taps.

This detail requires those of all ranks and MOSs, from commanding positions to enlisted. It’s necessary for veterans to be comfortable shooting a rifle, properly folding a flag, presenting to groups, and we’re looking for instrument-friendly individuals who can play reveille and taps.

The Honor/Color Guard has been asked to perform for final military honors, public appearances such as parades, public events, Memorial Day and Veterans Day ceremonies, and other requests from the public such as Wreaths Across America.

Grant allows Vets4Vets to help local veterans 

Vets4Vets of Archuleta County has received a grant from the Colorado Department of Military and Veteran Affairs. This financial grant 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 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: (970) 264-4013, fax number: (970) 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., Tennyson Building Event Center, 197 Navajo Trail Drive, on all but the first Tuesday. Breakfast meeting on the first Tuesday of the month at 9 a.m. Contact (970) 880-8387 for more details.

• Combat Veterans PTSD Group: every other Tuesday at noon, Community United Methodist Church, Lewis Street. Contact Gary Hanneman at (970) 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 (970) 903-9690.

Important information

• Vets4Vets: (970) 880-VETS,

• Durango VA Outpatient Clinic: (970) 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.