Half the battle in successfully appealing the VA’s rating denial or upgrading the character of your discharge is gathering the necessary evidence to support your application. Although there are laws in place, such as the Freedom of Information Act and the Privacy Act, that require the government to provide a copy, free of charge, of your records in its possession, it does not always comply with those laws. You can follow the instructions here to begin the process yourself.
Contact us if you need help getting your records from the government. In many instances we can provide this service free of charge to the Veteran pursuant to a FOIA provision which requires the government agency to pay the attorneys fees. For other records requests that do not require the filing of a lawsuit, we can provide this service for a flat fee.
What are FOIA and the Privacy Act
Both statutes allow individuals access to records the government keeps on them, such as your VA claims file. Federal agencies should (and usually do) apply both to grant the most access possible. Veterans Affairs may respond with a letter advising that it chooses to release your claims file under only the Privacy Act. The Privacy Act (conveniently for Veterans Affairs) does not impose the same time constraints on the government’s response as FOIA. This position is wrong, and if you get this response the Valor Firm advises that you appeal what is essentially a FOIA denial.
How do I file a FOIA request?
Send a letter using this template.
What if the government denies or fails to respond to my FOIA request?
Appeal the denial by sending a letter (via snail mail or e-mail) to the Veterans Affairs Office of General Counsel.
Department of Veterans Affairs
Office of the General Counsel
810 Vermont Ave NW
Washington, DC 20420
How long do I have to appeal a FOIA denial?
60 days from the date of the letter denying the FOIA request.