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The United States has a long history of military conflict and the challenges associated with properly honoring and assisting with the transition of veterans from military service to civilian life. Demonstrating the proper treatment and appreciation of veterans to ensure their smooth transition from military service is primarily the responsibility of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), but many government and private organizations play a role in caring for veterans and their families.
We are each proud to be veterans of the Army’s Vietnam era. One of us is an aging veterans’ advocate and law professor; the other is an active volunteer peer counselor, a decorated Ranger, and now an advisor to fellow PTSD veterans of the younger generation. We appreciate the reader’s willingness to consider ways in which you, the senior lawyer with or without military experience, can fill a real need in our nation today.
Recently, much has been said about the backlog of claims plaguing the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) disability compensation system. The VA has estimated that at the end of fiscal year 2012, over half a million claims fit this description, and that several hundred thousand more claims would be considered part of the backlog at the end of fiscal year 2013.
The purposes of this article are to describe when and under what circumstances the VA must pay fees to the appellant’s lawyer for an appeal to a court; explain how, when, and where a claim for fees may be filed; and, hopefully, encourage senior lawyers and others to help meet the legal needs of veterans, their dependents, and survivors.
Veterans face a cascade of related problems, including loss of employment, poor support networks and family relationships, and homelessness. The programs described in this article provide opportunities to evaluate whether a holistic and comprehensive approach to veterans’ legal difficulties can have beneficial outcomes for society and veterans and help this country meet its obligation to those who have served.
The Regional Task Force on the Homeless for San Diego County estimates the City of San Diego is residence to more than 9,600 homeless people, fewer than half of whom are sheltered. And HUD and the VA estimate that nearly 42 percent of our nation’s homeless veterans are located in the San Diego area. To effect real change, we must meet people where they are.
Remember the poster of “Uncle Sam” pointing at the viewer, saying, “I want you!”? Well, as a physician in the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) healthcare system, I want you—the lawyer reading this issue—to help my patients and the patients of my colleagues in VAs from Togus, Maine, to Honolulu, Hawaii, by offering your skill set to the veterans who cannot afford decent legal assistance.
This special issue of Experience describes some of the current problems facing veterans and describes the opportunities for service by lawyers, particularly those who call themselves senior lawyers. Senior lawyers who have achieved personal and economic security and now lead today’s law firms and communities can help create and staff workable solutions.
Friends, it is appropriate that I am writing this at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of the year, Veterans Day, a day that I remember very well from my childhood, when we knew it as Armistice Day, the day the big guns fell silent on the “Western Front” to signal the end of what we then called The Great War.
Veterans benefits laws and regulations are complex, but probably no more so than the Internal Revenue Code or the immigration system. To master the VA system in order to help veterans obtain and retain VA benefits requires mastery of a new and complicated area of practice—but it is also a wonderful opportunity to help veterans who have served our country.
If you are representing a veteran on an appeal to the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims (CAVC), you need a copy of this book on your desk.
Over the past two decades, the Internet has single-handedly transformed the way we conduct business and our social affairs. As we have become more deeply enmeshed in the digital age, it has become increasingly important for us to address this dimension of our lives from an estate planning perspective. This column presents a strategy for doing so.
While most people (including many seniors) believe that seniors as a group are technologically challenged, that generalization (which may once have had some truth to it) is rapidly going the way of the dinosaurs. More and more seniors have acknowledged technology, and many of those who acknowledge it have adopted and even befriended it.
Many prospective clients now research and contact lawyers on the Internet. Lawyers may want to extend the traditional duty of confidentiality to these folks. But if tech-savvy individuals could disqualify every lawyer in town by sending damaging confidential (and thus disqualifying) unsolicited information, the possibility of mischief seems obvious.