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Can You Get VA Disability for Physical Fitness Injuries?
Know If You Can Get VA Disability for Physical Fitness Injuries
Military personnel must remain in top physical shape throughout their active duty to remain eligible for service or promotions. To accomplish this, military personnel must participate in physical training (PT) daily. But what happens if a Veteran is injured while at the gym or performing some form of PT? The simple answer is yes. A Veteran who is injured while doing PT is still eligible for disability compensation from the VA.
Establishing Service Connection
Once a Veteran establishes honorable service, the only three things a Veteran must to show to obtain service connection are:
- A current condition
- An event, injury, or disease in service
- A connection (or nexus) between (1) and (2)
There is no need for the Veteran to have been injured while deployed or during a training exercise. If the Veteran can show they tore their ACL running during PT while on active duty, they may be entitled to service connection for the residual effects of that injury.
Aggravating a Preexisting Condition
Many Veterans enter the service with relatively minor injuries. If a Veteran had a preexisting injury prior to their service, that injury’s aggravation from PT may also be service connectable.
For example, Joe has an old shoulder injury from his high school wrestling days. After 10 years of pushups and pullups, Joe is discharged with a shoulder that cracks and pops frequently. 2 years after his separation, Joe suffers a tear in his rotator cuff. With a proper medical opinion from a doctor, Joe may be intitled to service connection for that torn rotator cuff due to aggravation of his original injury.
The key to Joe’s case is evidence that shows the worsening throughout his service. Ideally, Joe went to sick call every time his shoulder acted up. However, given the man up attitude many Veterans dealt with in service, he likely avoided medical attention as much as possible. In that case, Joe should try to obtain buddy statements from his friends or family about the progression of his condition while in the service.
Using Buddy Statements in Support of Your Claim
Many times, a Veteran must utilize buddy statements to help prove their case to the VA. From the example used above, let’s say Joe wants to have somebody write a buddy statement in support of his claim. Joe’s wife could write about how he was able to carry 8 grocery bags prior to his enlistment, but when Joe separated from the service, she noticed he could only carry 2 bags. Similarly, Joe’s best friend could explain how he saw Joe taking ibuprofen every 4 hours and complained about his shoulder from time to time in the latter part of their service together. Ensuring the record shows a clear picture of the timeline and aggravation is the best way to obtain service connection for an aggravated injury.
Veterans Disability Appeals Attorneys
The team at Berry Law is dedicated to helping fellow Veterans in their fight for disability benefits. If you applied for disability compensation for an injury that occurred during physical training or was aggravated by PT, you have the right to apply for disability compensation. If your claim was denied or if you need help appealing, contact Berry Law today to schedule a free case evaluation.
Established in 1965 by Vietnam War veteran and attorney John Stevens Berry Sr., Berry Law Firm is a team of veterans dedicated to defending, safeguarding, and fighting to protect the rights of veterans. Over the decades, thousands of veterans from across the country and all branches of the military have trusted our firm with their cases and, more importantly, their futures.