HomeMilitary Separation Guide for Active Duty PersonnelHealth CarePre-separation Examination and Service Medical Records

4.2. Pre-separation Examination and Service Medical Records

Unfortunately, a substantial number of separating service members waive pre-separation physical and psychological examinations in order to speed up the separation process. This can be a mistake of cosmic proportions.

Do not, repeat, do not even consider not having a pre-separation examination. As a general rule, one of the requirements for eligibility for post-service VA disability compensation benefits and health care is that there be a record of complaints, symptoms, treatment or diagnosis of disease, injury, disorder or disability during active military service. If you develop a service-related disability after your separation, but have nothing in your service medical records concerning that disability, and there is no pre-separation examination to confirm the presence of that disability or any indication, symptom, etc., that could serve as the basis for a medical professional's opinion that a current disability was related to military service, it will be highly unlikely that the VA will award you disability compensation. Since a service-connected disability is often the gateway to VA health care as well, not having a pre-separation examination could have adverse health consequences, not merely financial.

When you undergo your pre-separation examination, be sure to report any medical or psychological problem that you have experienced during your entire period of active service. Although disclosing some conditions, especially psychiatric conditions, might be considered embarrassing, it is worth reporting them, rather than jeopardize you right to VA benefits and health care.

Once you have undergone your pre-separation examination, be sure that you obtain complete copies of your service medical records (including both entrance (induction) and separation examinations, interim examinations, hospital admission records and outpatient treatment records). It is also a good idea to get copies of your service administrative/personnel file as well. These documents can be certified as true copies of your records by military records custodians. Your transition assistance officer can help you request these important records.

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