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Heidi, you contact the VA, either a county office or a local VA hospital, but the easiest way is to find a local VA office that can prepare the application and forward it to the VA or to a service organization for further processing.

We used a County VA office; the app was e-mailed to a local American legion office which completed, filed and followed up on the application. VFW performs a similar service.

Neither charged. Any organization that does is one to stay away from. Some outfits claim there are no charges, but they find ways to get money from vulnerable people who don't know that federal law prevents companies from charging to prepare applications.

Before making an appointment with any local VA office, make sure you have the DD214; ask if there are any other documents you need. I recall getting some statements from doctors as to service connected issues, but that was several years ago and I don't recall everything we did.
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