Ready to MAXIMIZE your military disability? You've come to the right place!

Through our blog, we jump deep into Military Disability topics, concerns, upcoming changes, etc. For a complete overview of the veteran's disability systems, ratings, and benefits, check out our website, It has an immense amount of information, and should be able to address the majority of your questions very well.

Comment, ask questions, let us know what YOU need. We are here for you!

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.).

  3. How many buddy letters should be included with claim? For PTSD for example, wife is an obvious choice but friends and/or other family members too?
    I dint want to submit too many or not enough.

    1. Buddy letters are tricky in that they really do not hold much weight compared to medical records or other official documents. Really only a couple are helpful unless each provides new, pertinent information that will effect your rating. That information should also be in your medical records, however, in order for the VA to put much weight in it.

  4. on the 21-4138 and it was not even looked at. Filed for increase over a year ago. Instead of appealing i am about to refile for increase and my wife using a sworn affidavit and also having it notarized. I'll never use that crap form again.

  5. A Good thing is to have it notarized under penalty of perjury., or elsewhere; when needed such as Board of Veterans Affairs[BVA]. BVA does not by LAW even have to consider an unnotarized buddy statement.

    1. Unfortunately, the reality is that buddy statements are very low on the importance of evidence that can be submitted. Official medical records and commander's statements hold much more weight. If something is only mentioned in a Buddy Statement but not located anywhere else in the record, it will most likely be ignored.

  6. What happens if a buddy letter is not signed?

    1. A buddy letter definitely needs to be signed to attest that it is real and not forged.

  7. My husband has 100% VA disability, he received a letter reducing it to 0%. He had cancer off the larynx, the cancer is in remission. However, his voice was affected to the point he is very hard to understand and has affected his ability to work as he is in sales. He also slobbers and has neck spasms. The doctors have all said this could be a result of the radiation. What do I do.

    1. If you can get a Doctor to say: "It is more likely than not that (the symptoms you mentioned) were a direct result from exposure to radiation during treatment for cancer of the larynx." That statement signed by a doctor should be included with Form 21-0995 if his reduction to 0% happened within the last year. If more than a year - use Form 21-526EZ and include the physician's letter(s).

    2. Good advice.

      Most 100% ratings for cancer are only applicable while it is active and for 6 months after the last treatment. However, they are then supposed to re-examine the condition and rate any lasting symptoms. Did he have an exam? If so, they should have rated the remaining symptoms at that time. You shouldn't have to reapply for them.

      He should at least qualify for one of the larynx codes, like aphonia code 6519.

      If you did have an exam and the examining physician did properly record his current symptoms, then you definitely need to submit an appeal. If he didn't have the exam, then you need to contact your VA to get one set up.

  8. Will the Aug 2004 version of this form still be accepted?

    1. It is always best to use the updated versions, but if the buddy letter was written and dated before the current forms were issued, then they can still be used to support a claim/appeal.

  9. Is a buddy letter meant to cover just 1 part of a claim IE: you get headaches and you have lower back pain. Do you need 2 letters or do you need to have them put it all in one?