NOVA is honored to announce that Judge Mary Schoelen of the United States Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims will speak at NOVA’s upcoming Spring Conference in San Francisco. Featured Speakers for the event also include Robert Reynolds, Director of VA Benefits Assistance Service; Thomas Murphy, VA Director of Compensation and Pension Services; and Founding NOVA Member Kenneth Carpenter of Carpenter Chartered. Read more about these featured speakers here.
JUDGE MARY SCHOELEN was appointed a Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims in December 2004. Prior to her appointment, Judge Schoelen served as Minority General Counsel and Deputy Staff Director for Benefits Programs for the Committee on Veterans' Affairs of the United States Senate.
Judge Schoelen earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of California and a J.D. from the George Washington University Law School. During law school, she worked as a law clerk for the National Veterans Legal Services Project, representing appellants at the Board of Veterans' Appeals. Then, she interned with the U.S. Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs, working on various issues pertaining to adjudication of veterans benefits claims. Later, she began working as a staff attorney for Vietnam Veterans of America's Veterans Benefits Program.
Judge Schoelen rejoined the U.S. Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs staff in March 1997, where she was responsible for development and implementation of policy pertaining to veterans benefits, as well as oversight of the implementation of that policy. She served as Minority Counsel from March 1997 to March 2001, as Minority General Counsel from March 2001 to June 2001, as Deputy Staff Director for Benefits Programs and General Counsel from June 2001 to January 2003, and Minority Deputy Staff Director for Benefits Programs and General Counsel from January 2003 to December 2004 under Chairman and Ranking Member John D. Rockefeller IV and Ranking Member Bob Graham.
THOMAS J. MURPHY was appointed Director of Compensation Service on August 1, 2010. As Director, Mr. Murphy is responsible for the development and implementation of policies and procedures related to the administration of VA disability and death compensation programs, which paid $44.5 billion dollars in benefits in fiscal year 2011 to over 3.7 million eligible veterans and dependents. Mr. Murphy worked for the Federal Government for 10 years in the Department of Defense in a variety of positions, including Logistics Manager, Administrative Officer, Training Manager, Staffing Specialist, and Chief of Employee Services. He joined the Federal Government from Litton Saudi Arabia Limited, where he was a Training Manager, Senior Engineering Instructor, and Installation and Checkout Engineer.
Mr. Murphy retired from the military as a Major after serving 15 years in the Colorado National Guard and six years in the Marine Corps Reserve. His military assignments included Assistant Deputy Chief of Staff for Personnel, Battalion Operations officer, Battery Commander, and Battery Fire Direction Officer.
ROBERT T. REYNOLDS was appointed Director of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Benefits Assistance Service in May 2010. In this capacity he provides executive level oversight in the development policy, planning, and integration of VBA's Direct Services and Client Outreach. Mr. Reynolds completed several leadership development programs including the Senior Executive Fellows Program at Harvard University (2011) and is an alumnus of the Federal Executive Institute (2008) and Leadership VA (2005), where he received the ELMO award.
He is a member of several Veteran Service Organizations including the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, 82nd Airborne Association, Special Forces Association, and is actively involved with the Disabled American Veterans, where he was elected as the National Commander of the 1.3 million-member Disabled American Veterans during the organization's 2007 National Convention in New Orleans.
KENNETH M. CARPENTER has been engaged in the private practice of law in Topeka, Kansas since 1973. He is admitted to the following courts: Kansas Supreme Court, 1973; Kansas Federal District Court, 1973; 10th Circuit Court of Appeals, 1984; U. S. Court of Federal Claims, 1987; Federal Circuit Court of Appeals,1989; Court of Veterans Appeals, 1990; United States Supreme Court, 1990. His major areas of practice are Veterans Disability Law and Criminal Law. He is a founding member of the National Organization of Veterans' Advocates, Inc.
Mr. Carpenter is President of Carpenter Chartered, a professional legal corporation which currently employs three full-time attorneys, one attorney who is of counsel, and 12 support staff. Carpenter Chartered began doing pro bono representation of disabled veterans in 1983. The primary focus of the firm's representation is with the psychiatrically disabled veteran, most often combat veterans with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. The firm also specializes in total disability cases and claims of clear and unmistakable error. The firm currently has an open case load of more than 400 veterans at every adjudicatory level, from initial claims at the Regional office to claims before the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.