“No mention of this condition is found in service records.”

A common statement we read in VA rating decisions that deny service connection is something close to “no mention of this condition is found in service records.” This is one of VA’s favorite methods of denying service connection, but it is often unjustifiable. There are many reasons that a condition can be service connected, but not mentioned in service records. We will go through many of the reasons service related conditions do not show up in military records and how to handle such situations.

PTSD and other mental conditions: It is rare to see references to these conditions in military records, and there are numerous reasons for the omittance. First, service members are taught to push through conditions during service and rarely seek assistance with mental conditions during service, which leaves the record blank on service related occurrences. Second, these conditions, though caused by service, may not appear for many years after service. To combat the lack of reported mental condition symptoms during service, evidence of the event that is the stressor causing the condition is sufficient. This combined with evidence from an expert diagnosing the mental condition and linking it to the stressor can result in service connection.

Conditions with presumptive periods: The are several conditions in which service connection is presumed if the condition manifested within a specific period of time after service. The number of years after service that a condition can manifest and be considered service connected is different depending on the condition. Medical expert reports are often used to show that a particular condition manifested during the specified period of time.

Cancer and other conditions without presumptions: For many conditions, there are not presumptions of service connection if the condition manifested after service. In these cases, it is essential to provide medical opinions showing how the conditions that occurred in service caused or contributed to the medical condition for which VA disability is sought. For cancer, it is often showing the environmental exposure the veteran experienced during service and then providing statements from experts on the latency period of the condition puts the cause during service.

This is just a short summary of how conditions can still be service connected without evidence of such condition being found in the record. The key takeaway from this is not to assume when the VA says a condition cannot be found in service records that connection of such condition cannot be achieved.

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