Fellow Service Personnel,

DVA has come up for a lot of flack over the years and as with any public service outfit, some is warranted and some is not.

I served for 12 years , including an all expenses trip to SVN, and now dealing with DVA to fix some damage (physically and emotionally) picked up during service I would offer some advice, especially for those currently serving.

When you are young and fit and full of it, you often let small injuries and incidents slide by without making much of it. But now, being well down the track and approaching 70 and mixing with many other `old’ vets, I discover a truth.



DVA have many constraints under legislation and work practices and a major point of reference to support any claim relies on what is in your records.

What might seem a minor injury or issue now can have cumulative outcomes to your health in years to come.

A twist here, a knock there a torn muscle here, a sore back there etc etc.

Please ensure you report specifically any injury and ensure it is recorded in detail in your medical records – this can and, if required, will be the point of reference and evidence for any future claims you may need to make.

Medical staff rely on your diligence in this area to ensure details are correct and adequate for future reference.

DVA has its role – and so do we – to ensure the system is workable.

Geoff Chester


EDITOR’S NOTE: I responded to Geoff’s email about his experience with DVA (and I think the poor fellow thought I was pushing back or argue against him – which wasn’t my intent).
I think we both came to the conclusion that individual experiences will differ.
So, while I absolutely agree with Geoff’s advice to document everything as you go through your career, I just wanted to add that if you haven’t documented everything, do still apply for your entitlements from DVA. In my case, I had no med-doc evidence to rely on, yet still got an excellent outcome (though it did take more than two frustrating years).
My number one piece of advice for dealing with the DVA claims process is, ‘find and trust a good advocate to fight in your corner‘. 

Thank you for your letter Geoff and sorry if I rubbed you the wrong way.


FILE PHOTO: Australian Army medics with the 2nd General Health Battalion simulate a casualty evacuation during Exercise Talisman Sabre 2019 at Shoalwater. Photo by US Marine Corps Lance Corporal Kealii De Los Santos.


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Posted by Brian Hartigan

Managing Editor Contact Publishing Pty Ltd PO Box 3091 Minnamurra NSW 2533 AUSTRALIA


  • 20/07/2021 at 12:55 pm

    Good Afternoon Brian,

    I have just read this very interesting “Letter to the Editor”. This fellow wrote about the importance of recording ALL medical events on your medical history, no matter how mundane you thought they may have been. I would like to emphasise a similar avenue of approach, but in the Administrative area.

    Throughout the term of any serviceman, (I served with the RAAF for nearly 25 years in a number of squadrons), he/she will no doubt serve on a number of operational units at different times. These major postings will no doubt be annotated on their personal documentation.

    However, it is also true that whilst serving on any one of these operational squadrons, or ships, or regiments, that one may be deployed to an entirely different location for a few weeks or months for an operational purpose. It is during several of these deployments, which may be to a very difficult or hazardous location, that our serviceman may suffer serious wounding or contract some serious infections, etc. Yet, even though he is still a member of No xx Regiment, he is way out in the bush somewhere, or possibly overseas in some hazardous area. Much later in his term of service, our man will note that his record states that he was posted to No xx Regiment, or to No xx Squadron, etc. but the documents will vary rarely quote many of the deployments he did whilst serving in that regiment or squadron.

    Therefore, when a fellow is about to be posted out of a squadron, or regiment, etc, ensure that EVERY deployment and EVERY exercise he went on or participated in is recorded on your documents. Fortunately, as I was leaving the RAAF, I asked for a copy of my “posting and attachment” list and I noticed that a few of the ‘Defence Exercises’ we went on whilst in squadrons were not on the list. So, as these were reasonably recent history at the time, I asked for a few of these deployments to be added to that list.

    Therefore, fast forward 20 or 30 years and when our fellow is suffering from a disease which was prevalent in certain areas, he can prove he was in that area during some exercise or deployment. This makes the task for DVA a lot easier if there is proof that this fellow was actually there at the time, during an operational deployment by his regiment or squadron.

    Kind Regards,
    John Clarkson


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