Past NOVA President Accepts Kenneth M. Carpenter Achievement Award
Washington, D.C. – The National Organization of Veterans’ Advocates, Inc. (NOVA) presented its most prestigious honor – the Kenneth M. Carpenter Achievement Award for Excellence – to Michael R. Viterna, longtime veterans’ disability attorney, pro bono advocate, and past NOVA president. He accepted the award at NOVA’s spring training conference in Las Vegas this month.
Dedicated to upholding the legal rights of military veterans, NOVA created this award to honor its Founding Member Ken Carpenter and his immense contributions to veterans’ law.
First presented in 2002, the award is given to a NOVA member each spring to mark exemplary achievement in the spirit of the organization’s founders.
Mr. Viterna has practiced veterans’ law for nearly 21 years. He is the founder and owner of Viterna Law in Belleville, Mich., a private practice dedicated to assisting veterans and their families appeal the denial of benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).
His passion to help veterans extending far beyond the courtroom, Mr. Viterna served as the president of NOVA from July 2011 to December 2015. During his leadership, membership in the nonprofit organization grew substantially as the VA’s inability to fulfill our nation’s promise to care for its disabled veterans became a national scandal.
Mr. Viterna advocated for reforms in the VA’s broken claims system, appearing before Congress with practical solutions to the agency’s most crippling challenges. These included the transition of veterans’ records from paper to electronic files. Mr. Viterna also fought hard for NOVA members to obtain electronic access to those veterans’ files.
Viterna Law is a recognized participant in the CVA/NOVA Pro Bono Advocates Program, a partnership between the Center for Veterans Advancement and NOVA, which provides free legal services to homeless and indigent veterans. Before his practice of veterans’ law, Mr. Viterna spent 33 years as a medic in the U.S. Air Force, retiring with the rank of Chief Master Sergeant. Just prior to his military retirement, he entered law school and was admitted into practice in 1995.
Mr. Viterna earned his law degree from Michigan State University College of Law. He also holds a master’s degree in health service administration from Central Michigan University, and a bachelor’s degree in biology, chemistry, and math from Eastern Michigan University. He is admitted to practice before the U. S. Court of Appeals for Veterans’ Claims and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.
(Pictured left to right: Glenda Herl, NOVA President; Michael R. Viterna, past NOVA President and Kenneth M. Carpenter Achievement Award recipient; Kenneth M. Carpenter, Founding NOVA Member)