Burn Pits: The "Agent Orange" of the Iraq War



One of the smartest things an officer ever said to me was

"... create an 'I Love Me' binder, because no body is going to love you like you love yourself..."

Now that was years ago in 2014, I'll never forget it. I usually give minimal attention to what direction an officer points me in (no offense Brass) but in this particular situation, It was one of the smartest things I've ever done, and actually made the difference in VBA C&P Claim success.

An "I Love Me" binder is exactly that, like in nursing "If you didn't document it, it didn't happen" - sadly same goes for the military, if isn't documented, it didn't happen. So we will lay out what exactly you can do to improve your chances of being approved for your military-related medical condition(s).

First things first, get a durable binder and some plastic inserts. I personally recommend a 2" binder or larger.

Second, grab everything you can find pertaining to your military service that is of importance.

Third, arrange the documents by date (year/month is how I did it, newest to oldest)

Fourth, make copies! Make Copies. MAKE COPIES! If you can put it in the "cloud" do so, or at least on a safe thumb drive.

Items to put into this binder:

- DD-214, NGB-22, ERB/ORB

- Record of PT test scores - this shows a decline in status which is of value.

- AF-190 (Occupational Illness/Injury Report) - this should be filled out by the CoC everytime, its also known as a "profile".

- Awards or citations (Purple heart, CAB/CIB/CAR) that shows that yes, in fact you were exposed/injured.

- DD 2808, 2807 - Your ENLISTMENT or COMMISSION physical, it shows you didn't enlist or commission unhealthy.

- Your annual "PHA" - physical health assessment(s), PDHA (pre-deployment) assessments. Veterans do not deploy unhealthy, this is proof, the VBA doesn't seem to understand that.

- Any CIVILIAN medical records pertaining to what it is you are claiming, for example... say you want to apply for a service connection related to asthma/sinusitis from burn pit exposures in and you've had sinus infections every month for the past 10 months, add that to show proof.

- Any MILITARY medical records, they often lose them, make copies as soon as you get them or print them off of your online file.

- Any DEPLOYMENT medical records

- Any medications pertaining to your claimed issue, not a whole laundry list. Ex: Amoxicillin antibiotics, corticosteriods, usually if you go to the pharmacy they can print you a list.

- Buddy statements, personally I recommend (2) each, you can find a template here, just have them edit it to fit your claim.

- Nexus letters, Medical opinion letters from providers... you can also find a template here, majority of the civilian doctors do not have experience in this and the VBA requires very specific wording for the nexus letter to be of use.

Learn More