How to Obtain VA Medical Records

By Kathryn Radeff

For a variety of reasons, you may need copies of your military-service medical records one day. If you are filing a claim with the Veterans Administration, it will be helpful to have records of any injuries, hospitalization and medical treatment you received from other physicians during your service. Getting your medical records doesn't need to be difficult if you follow the proper procedures.

How to Obtain VA Medical Records

Contact the VA hospital in your area. Speak with a person who handles the release of medical records to find out when the office is open. Specify that you want all your records.

Go to the hospital in person to fill out a request form. Most hospitals do not accept over-the-phone requests for medical records. Include in the letter your exact name, or any other names you may have been known by, your Social Security number and your date of birth. You will have to sign a release. .

Know that the Freedom of Information Act gives you the right to access all your own medical records. Veterans Administration facilities in all states maintain records of every treatment a veteran receives from any hospital in the entire VA system. If you can't find medical records, contact the Department of Veterans Affairs. .

Request additional records and documents that were not included in the medical reports you received. Services and procedures performed by third-party providers may be in separate reports. You can also request films, charts and a computer disc of procedures at no cost. The VA may charge a nominal fee to provide copies of these records.

Seek the assistance of a state veteran counselor if your disability claim is complicated and you are having difficulty getting records of examinations, treatments, decisions and other documents important to your claim. All VA hospitals have veteran counselors on hand to help veterans fight for medical benefits.

About the Author

Kathryn Radeff began writing professionally in 1982. A versatile writer, she has contributed to numerous publications, including "Woman's World," "The Buffalo News," "Buffalo Spree," "Reader's Digest" and "USA Today." Radeff studied theater and dance at the University of New York at Buffalo for two years. Following a 20-year career as a fitness instructor and dance educator, she now specializes in writing about health issues.

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