If a loved one, friend or colleague from the military died from complications in questionable medical situations or was improperly cared for in the military or Veterans Affairs care, there may be a lot of unanswered questions that need to be tracked down. Especially if the death happened decades ago, records of the event may be difficult to find. A few fact finding techniques and legal assistance can help you find the answers needed to shed light on wrongful death issues.
Tracking Down Military Medical Records
As recent as 2007, many military records in some branches were still being maintained on paper with only partial copies made into digital format. If the person in question served before regular medical record scanning into computers, you'll need to get in contact with Veterans Affairs to request the record.
Record searching takes quite a bit of time, as there are many records to sift through in library warehouses and information verification needed. Unless a veteran specifically makes their medical record a public record, only the immediate relatives (spouse, children, future direct descendants) may request the records after a thorough background check.
Once the record is retrieved, make sure to have a digital copy and physical copies recorded. Digital scans can be lost as well, so it's best to have multiple formats on hand in case of loss or theft.
Some medical record information may be at the veteran's previous duty stations. These duty stations and the responsible medical commands can be found in the veteran's personnel record, which is a separate package from the medical record. You can request both in order to create an accurate map of where the veteran was served by medical personnel and what relevant information is available.
Coordinate With Other Veterans Of The Time
Depending on when the veteran died, you may have a lot of matching information from other veterans. Similar mistakes, public admissions of fault by military commands or even eyewitness reports from other service members can help you figure out what happened and create a more tangible case.
Make sure to document every statement and matching incident that corresponds with where the veteran could have gone. By matching record of death with local reports of incidents and previous medical conditions, you can submit the medical records and reports for a wrongful death report.
A wrongful death attorney can help you investigate the issue. If you're having problems with getting access to records or figuring out how to navigate the often confusing military medical, administrative and legal systems, get in contact with an attorney from a firm such as Bangel, Bangel, & Bangel.