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Friday, June 14, 2019

The 4 Parts of a Buddy Letter

A buddy letter is a statement in support of a VA Disability Claim, written by someone 18 years of age or older, who has direct, first-hand knowledge of an event or injury, and offers an account of what they witnessed in support of a veteran's claim.

These personal statements can be from your spouse, friend, pastor, co-worker, boss, adult child, a fellow service member, or any other credible witness (18 years of age or older).
A credible and supportive statement from a competent individual can be the linchpin to winning your VA disability claim.

A buddy statement constitutes “lay evidence” under the law, which simply means “after the fact” evidence.

In this post, we will be exploring the 4 essential elements of a buddy letter, followed by VA buddy letter examples.

How to write a VA buddy letter

When writing or obtaining a buddy letter in support of a veteran's VA disability claim,  use VA Form 21-4138, Statement in Support of a Claim.

I've heard gossip that the VA Form 21-4138 might be hurting your claim…

Guess what?

They are wrong.

VA Form 21-4138 is still the PREFERRED method for personal statements according to VA Rating Officials.

When filling out the form, remember:  A great VA buddy letter is short and sweet (3-4 paragraphs max). Think less is more. We’re not writing a novel here, friends.

VA Raters are very busy people, so you want to give them the exact information they need, at the moment they need it, to support a veteran's VA disability claim.

All buddy letters must include:
  1. Your name, personal identifying information, and how you know the veteran
  2. What you witnessed or are witnessing
  3. The veteran's current symptoms and level of disability
  4. A signature testifying that the information stated is to the best of your knowledge and belief
Let's look at some examples.

Part 1: How do you know the veteran?

In part 1, you need to explain how you know the veteran.

Here is an example of how to write this section:

“My name is John Doe, and I'm the husband of veteran [INSERT VETERAN'S NAME].
I'm writing this statement on behalf of veteran [INSERT VETERAN'S NAME].
I have known [VETERAN] since 1989. We met in high school and became high school sweethearts.
Over the past 30 years, we have interacted daily.”

Part 2: What you witnessed or are witnessing.

In part 2, you need to explain in detail what you witnessed or are witnessing in regards to the incident that caused the condition or how the condition developed over time. 

You do NOT need to explain every detail, just establish the condition's beginning in relation to the veteran's military service. Basically, help define how the condition is service-connected

Here is an example of how to write this section:

“When I first met [VETERAN] before she entered active duty military service, she was happy, fun loving, and had no mental health issues whatsoever. All of that changed in July 2004 when she was raped by another service member while TDY to Lackland Air Force Base, San Antonio, Texas. It became very evident to me that she suffered and still suffers from severe PTSD, depression, and anxiety following this event. I encouraged her to get help and seek treatment many times over the years, but because she was an officer and worked with senior military leaders, she was afraid of retaliation and reprisal.”

Part 3: The veteran's current symptoms.

In part 3, you need to explain how the veteran currently suffers from the condition, including symptoms and limitations caused by the disability. 

Again, you do NOT need to explain every detail or reproduce the doctor's notes. Just include the things you know about and have personally witnessed. 

Here is an example of how to write this section:

“Ever since the incident, I witnessed her suffer from severe depression, anxiety, insomnia, nightmares, relationship problems, trust issues, anger issues, panic attacks 3-5x per week, memory problems, and sexual dysfunction, among many others. The rape mentioned above by a fellow service member has affected her so much that it is my belief she cannot have a normal relationship with anyone anymore, which has caused numerous marital challenges over the years. I am 100% certain that her PTSD, depression, and anxiety is due to the rape.”

Part 4: Signature.

In part 4, you need to sign and date your name to testify that the information stated is to the best of your knowledge and belief.

Here is an example of how to write this section:

“I CERTIFY THAT the statements on this form are true and correct to the best of my knowledge and belief.”

Signed, John Doe, January 23, 2019.


Ultimately, buddy letters can be a great help to a veteran's claim if they are simple, straightforward, and clearly communicate how the condition caused by military service has affected the veteran's life. 


  1. Great buddy letter example but what if that person are no longer in your life. Can or will a buddy letter be appropriate and will it be accept by VA?

    1. A legitimate buddy letter signed by the individual will be accepted, regardless of whether or not you are close the individual currently. As long as the person was present and can write a letter detailing what they witnessed, it will be accepted.

  2. hello, what is considered "personal identifying information" at the beginning of the buddy statement?

    1. Hi Mike-

      The VA will need things like contact information and information that shows your relationship to the veterans (i.e. information showing that you served together, are married, etc.).