PROJECT SALUTE: On-line Attorney Training for VA Certification July 23 and 24th , 2009

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nvlsp_01 This is a follow-up to my previous article, LIST OF ATTORNEYS FOR VETERANS SEEKING VA BENEFITS. We have learned here at VT that the supply of lawyers certified by the VA to represent Veterans can hardly keep up with the increasing demand for services, especially from the youngest generation of Vets returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. However, there is a shortage of lawyers familiar with Veterans Law across the board.

In an attempt to encourage attorneys, especially lawyers willing to accept pro bono services for Veterans, several law schools have begun offering training sessions leading to VA certification.

The increasing demand for Veterans Law Attorneys

Veterans’ law deals with certain special rights that veterans are entitled to as a result of their service in the armed forces. The Executive Branch of the United States government created the Department of Veterans Affairs to administer and enforce these laws. Most of the laws that apply especially to veterans deal with retirement, disability, healthcare, vocational and educational services, and death benefits for dependents of veterans.

Veterans’ law is a very specific and detailed area of the law, and more complex and difficult issues than those listed above are likely to arise. However, to offset this complexity the Department of Veterans Affairs is accessible to veterans, and attorneys making information regarding important aspects of veterans’ law easily attainable if one knows where to look.

     

The majority of the rules and regulations addressing aspects of Veterans law can be found in Title 38 of the United States Code. All of the laws under this title are administered by the Department of Veterans Affairs, its officers and subsidiary departments. Due to the complex and specialized nature of veterans’ law, attorneys who practice it must have their qualifications approved by the Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs.

12_icon.jpgWhen attorney training and VA certification opportunities arise, we will attempt to spread the word throughout the legal community through Bar Associations, and attorney blogs and forums, such as the Justice News Ladders.

Robert L. Hanafin
Major, U.S. Air Force-Retired
Veterans Advocacy Editor
VT News Network

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We invite Pro bono Attorneys to participate in a FREE attorney webinar training provided by Project SALUTE, a program designed by the University of Detroit Mercy School of Law to assist Veterans in Federal Disability and Pension Benefits matters. Visit our website at www.law.udmercy.edu to view the outreach and impact of the Project.

udmlogo The training is designed to teach pro bono attorneys how to assist Veterans with legal issues regarding disability and pension benefits. It will cover the process for obtaining veterans benefits, explain the reasons why claims are often denied, and discuss methods of obtaining evidence in support of the claim and appealing a claim denial at the Board of Veterans Appeals and the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims. Attorneys will also learn effective advocacy strategies for dealing with the Veterans Administration system, as well as information on recent developments in Veterans Law.

In exchange for being provided training and materials free of charge, attorneys agree to accept one or more Veterans Benefits matters from anywhere in the United States of America to be handled pro bono. Because Veterans’ benefits law is a national practice, many Veterans are represented by attorneys and service officers who are licensed in other states; with whom they communicate effectively by phone, fax, e-mail and letter.

Paralegals are welcome to participate only if their supervising attorney attends the same training. The training agenda is attached for your review. Please see materials below regarding VA accreditation requirements.

The next webinar-live, online training will be conducted on July 23 and 24 from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. (est) both days. Attorneys are required to attend both days in order to be referred a case.

If you are unable to attend the July webinar, please see the Project SALUTE webinar schedule at the link listed below.

Please register, in advance, at: http://www.law.udmercy.edu/project_salute/whatisps.php

Click on Training Pro Bono Attorneys

We will mail you training materials and webinar access information prior to the training. Should you have questions, please contact Regina Martin, Project SALUTE Assistant Pro bono Coordinator, at [email protected] or (313) 596-0252.

We look forward to your participation. Thank you, in advance, for serving those who served.

Sincerely,

Professor Tammy M. Kudialis, Esq.
Director, Project SALUTE

As you may already know, Veterans Administration (VA) regulations require attorneys to be accredited in order to represent veterans before the VA. Attorneys are able to receive their initial accreditation by completing VA Form 21a. VA should grant the accreditation within approximately 60 days from the date of submission.

Please be aware that to maintain VA accreditation, attorneys must complete at least 3 hours of qualifying continuing legal education (CLE) within 12 months following the date of the accreditation. If you receive VA Accreditation prior to attending the Project SALUTE training you will have satisfied this initial requirement. However, if you attend the Project SALUTE training before receiving VA accreditation you must attend a second 3-hour CLE training to fulfill the initial accreditation requirement. Attached, please find a memo which describes the regulations in detail. To comply with the regulations, we recommend volunteer attorneys complete and submit VA Form 21a which can be found online at http://www.va.gov/vaforms/va/pdf/VA21a.pdf as soon as possible. You may fax a completed application for accreditation to (202) 495-5457. The VA has a stated goal to make attorney accreditation determinations on complete applications in less than 30 days.

Please do not let the VA Accreditation requirement prevent you from attending Project SALUTE training or accepting a pro bono case assignment. If you have not previously represented a claimant before the VA, attorneys are able to represent veterans under a "one time representation" provision found in 38 C.F.R. § 14.630. This provision can be used while you are awaiting accreditation. This regulation allows any person to represent a veteran on a one time pro bono basis, if the person has not previously represented a claimant before the VA. The attorney would simply prepare and sign VA Form 21-22a and cover letter to indicate that he/she is representing the veteran under 38 CFR §14.630. The letter must indicate that the attorney has not previously represented a veteran before the VA and that no compensation will be paid or charged for the services. Both the attorney and claimant must sign the letter. VA form 21-22a may be found online at http://www.vba.va.gov/pubs/forms/21-22a.pdf .

Thank you for participating in Project SALUTE, Students and Lawyers Assisting U.S. Troops Everywhere Exclusively with Federal Benefits. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me at your convenience.

Very truly yours,

Professor Tammy M. Kudialis
Director, Project SALUTE
Phone: (313) 596-9409
Fax: (313) 596-9825
Email: [email protected]

AGENDA

FEDERAL VETERANS’ BENEFITS LAW: AN INTRODUCTORY SEMINAR

DAY 1

Welcome and Introductions (10 min.)

Overview of the VA System (20 min.)

Requirements of a VA Disability Compensation Claim (35 min.)

How the VA Rates Disabilities (20 min.)

Special Challenges of PTSD and Mental Health Claims (20 min.)

Responding to Denial of a Claim (30 min.)

Non-Service Connected Pensions (15 min.)

Survivor and Special Benefits (20 min.)

Q & A (10 min.)

DAY 2

Gathering Evidence to Support a Claim (30 min.)

Presumptive and Secondary Disabilities (30 min.)

Common Reasons Claims are Denied and What You Can Do About Them (30 min.)

Reviewing and Organizing the Claims File (30 min.)

Regulation Changes and Certification of Attorneys (20 min.)

Advocacy Tips and Resources (20 min.)

Final Questions and Answers and Conclude (20 min.)

THE END

projectsalutemobilelawoffice_01 Note: unfortunately the Nation-wide tour ended in June 2009, however it is well worth following the link at left for information on upcoming state by state tours. In addition to the online seminar for attorneys, Project Salute also has a mobile law office traveling the country which provides free assistance and/or representation to thousands of low-income veterans exclusively on federal benefits issues throughout the United States. As recounted this past February in the Detroit Free Press. WE have asked the University of Detroit Mercey School of Law to keep us informed of any future scheduled nation-wide tours, and we will try to do a much better job in making this information available to YOU. Major Hanafin

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Readers are more than welcome to use the articles I've posted on Veterans Today, I've had to take a break from VT as Veterans Issues and Peace Activism Editor and staff writer due to personal medical reasons in our military family that take away too much time needed to properly express future stories or respond to readers in a timely manner. My association with VT since its founding in 2004 has been a very rewarding experience for me. Retired from both the Air Force and Civil Service. Went in the regular Army at 17 during Vietnam (1968), stayed in the Army Reserve to complete my eight year commitment in 1976. Served in Air Defense Artillery, and a Mechanized Infantry Division (4MID) at Fort Carson, Co. Used the GI Bill to go to college, worked full time at the VA, and non-scholarship Air Force 2-Year ROTC program for prior service military. Commissioned in the Air Force in 1977. Served as a Military Intelligence Officer from 1977 to 1994. Upon retirement I entered retail drugstore management training with Safeway Drugs Stores in California. Retail Sales Management was not my cup of tea, so I applied my former U.S. Civil Service status with the VA to get my foot in the door at the Justice Department, and later Department of the Navy retiring with disability from the Civil Service in 2000. I've been with Veterans Today since the site originated. I'm now on the Editorial Board. I was also on the Editorial Board of Our Troops News Ladder another progressive leaning Veterans and Military Family news clearing house. I remain married for over 45 years. I am both a Vietnam Era and Gulf War Veteran. I served on Okinawa and Fort Carson, Colorado during Vietnam and in the Office of the Air Force Inspector General at Norton AFB, CA during Desert Storm. I retired from the Air Force in 1994 having worked on the Air Staff and Defense Intelligence Agency at the Pentagon.