Veteran's Health Care
Maintaining Your Medical Records
BY PATRICIA BESSIGANO, CHAIR
VVA members are now either in our retirement years or quickly approaching them. One of the challenges facing Veterans Service Officers is the filing of new claims for Vietnam veterans without proper medical evidence. If veterans have not kept copies of their records, it can be virtually impossible to document the progress of an illness, especially if they have received medical care in the private sector.
Private physicians are required to maintain medical records for seven years. Many keep them at least ten years. However, record storage beyond that often becomes cumbersome and those records are destroyed. The opportunity for the patient to obtain those records is then lost, and the opportunity to document an illness also is lost. Also, private physicians have not always documented whether their patients have served in the military or if they were exposed to any hazardous chemicals or materials. They also have not always documented illnesses or injuries that occurred during a veteran’s service.
One of the goals of the Health Care Committee is to educate returning veterans about maintenance of their medical records as they progress in life and to educate private physicians about taking a complete and accurate military medical history.
A sample medical history form will be available on the VVA Health Care Committee web page. The new prostate and diabetes brochures are also available on the VVA website.