To qualify for many veterans compensation benefits, a veteran must establish that their injury or condition was caused by their military service. The VA regulations explains that service connection, generally, “basically it means that the facts, shown by evidence, establish that a particular injury or disease resulting in disability was incurred coincident with service in the Armed Forces, or if preexisting such service, was aggravated therein.” 38 C.F.R. 3.03(a). In other words, if your military service caused an injury or medical condition, you can apply for compensation. Also, if your military service aggravated, e.g. made worse, some injury or medical condition that you had before you entered the service, you can apply for compensation for that also.
Direct service connection means that your injury, medical condition, or aggravation was directly caused by your military service. Three things need to be proven to establish direct service connection:
- Medical evidence must show that you have a current disability;
- The disability must be incurred in-service; and
- Medical evidence must link your current disability to the in-service event.
If these three things are proven, you have a shot at making a successful claim for VA benefits.