“Buddy Letters” and Family Statements about PTSD

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Written statements from fellow service members who served with the veteran can be crucial in establishing PTSD stressor events and other facts. Family statements are also critical to showing the impact of PTSD on a veteran’s daily life after their military service is complete.

WHAT IS A “BUDDY LETTER”?

A “buddy letter” is a written statement from a fellow service member who has firsthand knowledge about a veteran’s service and/or the events that caused their PTSD, TBI or MST. Statements from family members can also be extremely beneficial for establishing facts that are relevant to showing how service-connected PTSD has impacted the veteran. There is no form for buddy letters—they can be typed or handwritten on a regular piece of paper.

WHAT INFORMATION SHOULD BE INCLUDED IN A BUDDY LETTER?

When we apply for a Discharge Upgrade for a veteran with PTSD/TBI/MST, we argue that not only did the veteran suffer from service-connected PTSD at the time of their discharge, but that PTSD fundamentally impacted the veteran’s behavior and should therefore mitigate the misconduct that led to their discharge. Statements that corroborate a veteran’s claims are very helpful.

(FOR) VETERANS: Describe PTSD stressor event(s) in detail.

Statements from fellow service members should include information that shows they have firsthand knowledge of PTSD-causing event(s), including times and dates, units, locations, other witnessess, and the facts about what happened. If veteran giving the statement also has PTSD, include this info.

(FOR) FAMILY MEMBERS: Describe PTSD symptoms with specific examples.

Ex. [Veteran] jumps when she hears loud noises.
Ex. [Veteran] and is stressed by fireworks.
Ex. [Veteran] is constantly alert and on guard.
Ex. [Veteran] always sits with her back against the wall.
Ex. [Veteran] awakens violently when startled.
Ex. [Veteran] trembles when exposed to [fill in blank].
Ex. [Veteran] has frequent nightmares.

ALL written statements from fellow service members and family should include:

  • Author’s name and relationship to the veteran
  • VETERANS: Details about the in-service stressors that may have caused PTSD/TBI/MST
  • FAMILY: Details about the veteran’s current PTSD symptoms (and life before PTSD, when possible)
  • Signature and Date
  • Declaration: “I certify under penalty of perjury that the foregoing statement is true and correct to the best of my knowledge and belief.”

DISCLAIMER

This information is not legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship with Lincoln’s Promise NFP or its staff. It was assembled with great care, but please ensure that you are using the most up-to-date information.