Re: Welcome to VA, wait time is 589hours
My advice with the VA. Register for the e-benefits website while still on AD. Get copies of your medical records at least 1 year prior to retirement/separation (you can get additional copy of the remaining year). Review your medical records and make a list of everything you've been seen for (except cold/flu, etc.) list all your surgeries. Get a complete copy of your training records, EPRs, decs, personnel files (all available via ARMS or PRADA). Make your own copies of all. Make digital copies of all. As you get closer to your date and start your DD-214 process, be sure to include everything. Hopefully you've saved copies of travel vouchers, etc. (especially any proving overseas deployments). Make sure your deployment medical information (post deployment questionnaires,etc.) are in your records. I recommend that if you are retiring/separating and remaining in the same state (at least for the first year or so) to pursue the benefits upon discharge program, where you can submit your VA disability paperwork 6 months prior to sep/ret/. If you are moving to another state, it is best to wait till you get there to file with the VA. Select an organization to be your representative at the disability hearing. DAV, AMVETs, VFW, are some of the more popular. Your county veteran's service officer (VSO) is the person to contact and to fill out the power of attorney form.
I have found e-benefits to be very helpful and responsive. I had an initial problem that was resolved in a couple of days. Your success with the VA will vary as some states with huge military populations are more back logged than others. But it is very possible if you start as soon as possible to receive your disability rating and payment 1 month after retirement/separation.
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