NPRC cannot locate my medical records and the VA has denied my claim for this reason. My conditions were documented while on active duty and have gotten progressively worse over the years. While active, I only received military care ... I do have some civilian medical documentation of my conditions. How do I proceed from here? I have been out for some years. Thank you for your sharing your knowledge and time.
Missing medical records aren't at all unusual. Often enough we can prove that we were injured before we left the military because as soon as we're out, we're seeking treatment for the claimed conditions. For example, if you injured your knee and went to a clinic and were treated but those records are lost, it's likely that if you had a continuing injury you'd seek health care then. If you sought care for a condition during the first year that you were out of active service, that's a very good indication that your claimed injury occured on active duty. Then if your claimed injury was disabling, it's likely you'd have a pattern of regular visits for health care over time and those are the records you'll use to establish a time line of the injury. If you can't show a pattern of health care over time after discharge that addresses your claimed disabling condition, you can expect VA will want more.