Veterans’ Advocate Insider – December 2015 & January 2016 Edition



President’s Message: NOVA Rings in the New Year Stronger Than Ever

Happy New Year! As we enter 2016, I want to thank Mike Viterna, our outgoing President, for his service to NOVA over the years. He deserves a standing ovation for his commitment and dedication to this organization. Thank you, Mike! The 2015 board members are returning for 2016 with one new addition – Michelle Wolf. I want to welcome Michelle and look forward to a new perspective on the issues which NOVA will address in the new year.

I am excited to start the new year and look forward to the opportunity to lead NOVA as its President. The full board will be meeting in person in January for a strategic planning session to discuss NOVA’s goals for the coming year. We will also review our current programs, discuss ideas, and develop an action plan for new revenue streams. I will provide you with an update on those discussions in the next newsletter.

NOVA continues to move forward on several fronts. Meetings with VA officials are planned for January and an important topic of discussion will be the status of electronic access for attorneys and agents. This is an important issue for NOVA, and I believe we must push forward for full access for law firm staff as well.

Diane Rauber, NOVA’s Director of Legislative and Regulatory Affairs, continues to meet with staffers on the hill, VA leaders, and other organizations. Please make it a priority to check the Outreach, Regulatory and Legislative Forum, where Diane posts up-to-date information concerning important news for advocates. While we have made great progress in raising money to fund Diane’s position, we need every member to contribute. It is my plan that within the next three years NOVA will have in place new programs to generate the revenue to support this position. If you have not made a contribution, please consider doing so. We need your support.

NOVA’s Spring Conference will be held in Las Vegas early in March. The Seminar Committee has worked hard to put together another excellent agenda. There are multiple concurrent sessions planned in order to present more topics of interest to advocates. I urge you to register if you haven’t done so – don’t miss a valuable opportunity to network with other practitioners.

NOVA is currently pursuing regulation challenges at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit on new regulations concerning standardized Notice of Disagreement (NOD) forms and substitution. The question presented in the petition filed by NOVA on the VA’s regulation requiring a standardized form for a NOD was whether VA may reject a NOD that satisfies 38 U.S.C. § 7105(b)(1) because the NOD is not on a standard form that adds substantive requirements not found in 38 U.S.C. § 7105(b)(1). Oral argument was heard in this case on October 8, 2015. The panel has not yet issued a decision.

The second challenge raised by NOVA on the substitution regulations was whether the VA’s rulemaking imposes unnecessary administrative hurdles to dependents recognized by VA at the time of the veteran’s death seeking to be substituted as appellants. Oral argument was heard in this case on December 7, 2015. The panel has not yet issued a decision.

NOVA will also be filing an Amicus Brief in January in support of a Petition for Writ of Certiorari in the United States Supreme Court in the case of Scott v. McDonald, 2014-7095, which addresses issue exhaustion.

There has never been a better time to be a NOVA member. We are expanding our vision to maximize our advocacy and efficacy. By ensuring your membership is current, you can take pride in being a part of moving forward together.

Best regards,

Glenda S. Herl

Special Assessment Dues Bolster NOVA’s Advocacy Role on Capitol Hill

Last summer, the Board of Directors made the important decision to hire a Director of Legislative and Regulatory Affairs. This move was a long time in the making. Over the years, NOVA has grown increasingly concerned over the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and Congress’ efforts to impede the way in which advocates represent veterans.  Here’s a brief overview of our accomplishments.

In the months that followed, NOVA launched a fundraising campaign to collect special assessment dues in support of this lobbying mission and the response from our members was overwhelming. As a result of your generosity, NOVA was able to bring on Diane Rauber in a full-time role handling legislative and regulatory affairs. We have no doubt that Diane is the right person at the right time.

It’s certainly no secret that many folks neither appreciate nor fully understand the importance of attorney representation in the veterans’ benefits claims process. Given this obstinacy, NOVA faces challenges from every direction by those whose inadequacies we illuminate for the sake of fair representation. This is nothing new. For decades, NOVA has served as “the voice of reason” to protect veterans’ rights.

But now more than ever, veterans need our help to protect what they’ve earned in their selfless service to our country. That’s where NOVA’s special assessment dues come into play. Every dollar of these voluntary dues goes to our legislative work on key issues that affect all NOVA members – among them, the VA’s efforts to ‘close the record,’ cap attorney fees, and manipulate the claims process to the detriment of veterans.

Addressing these and other concerns for NOVA, Diane has made substantial inroads on Capitol Hill, reaching across party lines in Congress at both the House and Senate. She has also met with key officials at the Veterans Benefits Administration, the Board of Veterans’ Appeals (BVA), and other strategic places in Washington, D.C. to present our organization’s views at open forums and behind closed doors.

Marking her progress, Diane provided a legislative update to NOVA members at our Fall Conference in Chicago and will do so again at each upcoming conference. She provides monthly updates to the Board of Directors, as well. Diane also started a new NOVA Forum dedicated to legislative and regulatory news on the Members-Only portion of our website, regularly posting items of interest.

As we enter the New Year, NOVA is incredibly excited about the tremendous potential for NOVA to educate Congress (and VA) on the daily hurdles faced by veterans appealing the VA’s decision to deny their earned benefits. That NOVA members so willingly came forward to voluntarily fund this effort is a testament to its critical importance.

Every pledge counts in this mission. The special assessment dues paid by you and other NOVA members will most certainly enable us to shape the future of how we are able to represent veterans. Every dollar of your contribution goes to fund NOVA’s legislative work on Capitol Hill and elsewhere in Washington. No dollar goes to overhead.

With the continued support of NOVA members like you, NOVA will win the battle against bureaucratic red tape and continue to make a positive difference in the lives of our nation’s disabled veterans. Thank you again to those who have offered their generous support.

To contribute to NOVA’s legislative and regulatory efforts, please contact NOVA Staff by calling 202-587-5708 or emailing Meghan Dunham at mdunham@vetadvocates.org or Katy Whalen at kwhalen@vetadvocates.org.

NOVA 2016 Board of Directors Rolls up Its Sleeves for Busy New Year

Washington, D.C. – At its recent membership meeting in Chicago, the National Organization of Veterans’ Advocates, Inc. (NOVA) elected by acclamation the slate of members nominated to serve on its Board of Directors.  Incumbents Todd Wesche and Zachary Stolz were re-elected and Michelle Wolf has joined the NOVA Board for 2016.

In addition, the Board elected its officers:  Glenda Herl as President, Joseph Moore as Vice President, Todd Wesche as Secretary, and Matthew Hill as Treasurer.  The new officers assumed their positions on January 1st.  Ms. Herl replaces Michael Viterna, who completed his term at year’s end, having served as president since July 2011.

NOVA President Glenda Herl has been Chief Operating Officer of Carpenter, Chartered in Topeka, Kan. since 1984.  A NOVA member for the past 20 years, Ms. Herl served as NOVA’s volunteer Executive Director from 1995 to 2004, is a founding member of the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims (CAVC) Bar Association, and was the recipient of the CAVC’s Hart T. Mankin Distinguished Service Award in 2000 and 2006.  She is admitted to practice at the CAVC as a non-attorney practitioner.

Stepping up to NOVA Vice President, Board Member Joseph Moore founded Bergmann & Moore, LLC with Glenn Bergmann in 2004.  Based in Bethesda, Md., Mr. Moore supervises the firm’s agency practice representing veterans and their families against the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).  Prior, he served as an Associate Counsel with the VA’s Board of Veterans’ Appeals in Washington, D.C.  Mr. Moore is a graduate of Saint John’s University and the University of Minnesota School of Law.

Re-elected to a second term, NOVA Secretary Todd Wesche is the Managing Attorney of the VA Practice Group at The Law Offices of LaVan & Neidenberg, PA. in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.  His legal career has focused almost exclusively on veterans’ benefits law since 2004. Previous to LaVan & Neidenberg, Mr. Wesche was a Senior Associate Attorney at Goodman, Allen & Filetti, PLLC.  Mr. Wesche is a graduate of Suffolk University Law School and the George Washington University School of Law.  He is a veteran of the United States Air Force and is proficient in American Sign Language.

Also re-elected to a second term, NOVA Board Member Zachary Stolz is a partner at Chisholm, Chisholm & Kilpatrick, Ltd., in Providence, R.I.  Prior to joining the firm, he worked in the Judicial Appeals Office of the Disabled American Veterans from 2005 to 2007.  Mr. Stolz serves as President of the CAVC Bar Association.  He is also Vice-Chair of the Federal Circuit Bar Associations’ Veterans Appeals Committee.  Mr. Stolz is a graduate of Rockhurst University and the University of Kansas School of Law.

Serving as NOVA Treasurer, Matthew Hill is a principal at Hill & Ponton, P.A., based in the Central Fla. area.  Mr. Hill focuses exclusively on representing veterans in claims for compensation through VA.  His practice ranges from submitting original claims for compensation for disability benefits at VA regional offices to filing appeals at the CAVC.  He graduated cum laude from the University of Florida School of Law.

New to the NOVA Board, Michelle Wolf has been an accredited VA attorney since December 2008 when she began representing veterans on a part-time, pro bono basis.  After enjoying 15 years as a hospital lawyer, in June 2012 Ms. Wolf left Partners HealthCare to start her own practice dedicated exclusively to representing veterans and their survivors in their claims for VA disability and related benefits. She has been an active member of the Boston Bar Association’s Veterans Committee and its Military & Veterans Pro Bono Project. Ms. Wolf is a graduate of Georgetown University and Boston University Law School.  She also received an MBA from the Sloan School of Management at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

The NOVA Board of Directors is also served by Veterans Law Attorneys Chris Attig (Attig Law Firm, PLLC); Ralph Bratch (Bosley & Bratch, P.C.), and Robert Goss (Law Office of Robert B. Goss, P.C.).

2016 NOVA Board of Directors
President – Glenda Herl, Carpenter Chartered
Vice President – Joseph Moore, Bergmann & Moore
Secretary – Todd Wesche, LaVan & Neidenberg, P.A.
Treasurer – Matthew Hill, Hill & Ponton, P.A.
Chris Attig – Attig Law Firm, PLLC
Ralph Bratch – Bosley & Bratch
Robert Goss – Law Office of Robert B. Goss, P.C.
Zachary Stolz – Chisholm, Chisholm, & Kilpatrick 
Michelle Wolf – Veterans Disability Benefits

VA to Expand Vets’ Benefits Eligibility Re: Camp Lejeune Drinking Water

WASHINGTON, D.C. – On December 17, 2015, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) announced that it plans to propose expanded disability compensation eligibility for Veterans exposed to contaminated drinking water while assigned to Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune.

From 1953 to 1987, water sources at the base were contaminated with industrial solvents that are correlated with certain health conditions.  Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert A. McDonald decided to propose presumptions of service connection for certain conditions associated with these chemical solvents following discussions between environmental health experts at the Veterans Health Administration and the Department of Health and Human Services Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR).

“The water at Camp Lejeune was a hidden hazard, and it is only years later that we know how dangerous it was,” said Secretary McDonald.  “We thank ATSDR for the thorough review that provided much of the evidence we needed to fully compensate Veterans who develop one of the conditions known to be related to exposure to the compounds in the drinking water.”

ATSDR determined that the drinking water at Camp Lejeune was contaminated with perchloroethylene, trichloroethylene, vinyl chloride, benzene and other petroleum contaminants from leaking storage tanks from 1953 to 1987.  ATSDR also determined that prolonged exposure to these chemicals increases the risk of certain health conditions.

Based upon the VA’s review of current medical science and ATSDR’s findings, Secretary McDonald intends to propose creation of a presumption of service connection for the following conditions:

  • Kidney Cancer
  • Liver Cancer
  • Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma
  • Leukemia
  • Multiple Myeloma
  • Scleroderma
  • Parkinson's Disease
  • Aplastic Anemia/Myelodysplastic Syndromes

The Secretary’s proposal would also expand benefits eligibility to Reserve and National Guard personnel who served at Camp Lejeune for any length of time from August 1, 1953, through December 31, 1987.   These personnel would be presumed to have been exposed to the contaminated water during their Reserve or National Guard service and, in appropriate circumstances, to have been disabled by such exposure during service, thus allowing them to qualify for VA benefits under the statutory definition of “Veteran.”

This would make them eligible for VA disability compensation and medical care for any of the presumptive conditions, and their surviving dependents would be eligible for dependency and indemnity compensation and burial benefits.

VA is working on regulations that would establish these presumptions, making it easier for affected Veterans to receive VA disability compensation for these conditions.  While VA cannot grant any benefit claims based on the proposed presumption of service connection for these conditions until it issues its final regulations, it encourages Veterans who have a record of service at Camp Lejeune between August 1, 1953, and December 31, 1987, and develop a condition that they believe is related to exposure to the drinking water at the base, to file a disability compensation claim with VA.

VA will continue to grant claims for disabilities claimed to be associated with exposure to the contaminants that can be granted under current regulations and review of the evidence in each case. If a claim for service connection for one of the proposed presumptive conditions would be denied under current regulations, the denial will be stayed until VA issues its final regulations. VA will announce when the regulations are final and presumptive benefits can begin to be awarded. For more information on applying for these benefits, visit: http://benefits.va.gov/compensation/claims-postservice-exposures-camp_lejeune_water.asp.

Veterans who served at Camp Lejeune for 30 days or more between August 1, 1953, and December 31, 1987, are already eligible to receive VA healthcare for up to 15 health conditions.  More information, including a full list of covered conditions, can be found online at: http://www.publichealth.va.gov/PUBLICHEALTH/exposures/camp-lejeune/index.asp.

Veterans can establish eligibility for healthcare benefits by submitting VA Form 10-10EZ online at www.1010ez.med.va.gov/, downloading it at www.va.gov/vaforms/medical/pdf/1010EZ-fillable.pdf and returning it to any VA Medical Center or Clinic, or by calling 1-877-222-VETS (8387), Monday through Friday, between the hours of 8:00 AM and 8:00 PM (Eastern Time).

VA is reimbursing certain veterans’ family members for eligible out-of-pocket medical expenses related to the 15 covered conditions.

More information can be found at:  https://www.clfamilymembers.fsc.va.gov

 

CAVC Revises Rule 30(a) of its Rules of Practice & Procedure (Misc. No. 16-15)

The United States Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims (CAVC) has revised Rule 30(a) (Citation of Nonprecedential Authority) of its Rules of Practice and Procedure. The revision of Rule 30(a) went into effect on November 19, 2015. You can view the Order on the Court's website: http://www.uscourts.cavc.gov/miscellaneous_orders.php

The Order reads: Pursuant to the authority of 38 U.S.C. §§ 7263(b) and 7264(a), and consistent with 28 U.S.C. § 2071(b), the Court has revised Rule 30(a) (Citation of Nonprecedential Authority) of its Rules of Practice and Procedure. A proposed revision was published for public comment by Misc. No. 07-15 (July 28, 2015). The Court benefitted from public comment and from the views of its Rules Advisory Committee. Accordingly, it is ORDERED that the attached revision of Rule 30(a) is hereby published and is effective this date.

Revised Rule 30(a):

RULE 30. CITATION OF CERTAIN AUTHORITY

(a) Citation of Nonprecedential Authority. A party, intervenor, or amicus curiae may not cite as precedent any action designated as nonprecedential by the Court or any other court, or that was withdrawn after having been published in a reporter, except when the cited action has binding or preclusive effect in the case on appeal (such as via the application of the law-of-the-case doctrine). Actions designated as nonprecedential by this Court or any other court may be cited only for the persuasive value of their logic and reasoning, provided that the party states that no clear precedent exists on point and the party includes a discussion of the reasoning as applied to the instant case. With the exception of decisions of this Court available electronically, a copy of any unpublished action referred to shall be attached to the document containing the reference.

Kenneth M. Carpenter Gives Oral Argument on Substitution Rule-Making Challenge

On December 7, 2015, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (Federal Circuit) heard argument on NOVA’s petition for review of the VA’s final rule governing substitution of certain qualifying survivors in pending claims and appeals upon the veteran’s death. National Organization of Veterans’ Advocates, Inc. v. Secretary of Veterans Affairs, No. 2015-7024. Kenneth M. Carpenter, Carpenter Chartered, presented NOVA’s argument.

NOVA contends the provisions of 38 C.F.R. §§ 3.1010(b) and (d), as well as §§ 20.900(a)(2) and 20.1302(a), impose unnecessary burdens on dependents seeking to be substituted and result in needless delays. Specifically, sections 3.1010(b) and (d) require survivors to file a request to substitute with the agency of original jurisdiction and provide evidence of eligibility even when a valid dependency relationship is already established. The VA’s amendments to sections 20.900(a)(2) and 20.1302(a) result in dismissal without prejudice of an appeal pending before the Board of Veterans’ Appeals even when an eligible dependent is already identified. The recognized survivor is forced to apply to the agency of original jurisdiction for a redetermination of eligibility, thereby delaying a decision on the appeal. These regulations are at odds with the statutory intent of 38 U.S.C. § 5121A.

In response to the Secretary’s argument that the nature of the dependency relationship is not static and the VA’s statutory interpretation is entitled to Chevron deference, NOVA asserted the challenged provisions are inconsistent with the expressed intent of Congress, as well as arbitrary and capricious. Furthermore, the pro-veteran canon of statutory interpretation should apply.

To view the Federal Circuit’s oral argument schedule and listen to arguments, see http://www.cafc.uscourts.gov/argument/upcoming-oral-arguments.

The recorded argument can be heard by clicking HERE.

Judge Alan G. Lance, Sr. to Address NOVA’s 2016 Spring Assembly

NOVA is honored to announce that Judge Alan G. Lance, Sr. of the United States Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims will speak at NOVA’s upcoming Spring Conference in Las Vegas. Judge Alan G. Lance, Sr., was nominated as a Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims by President George W. Bush, confirmed by the Senate, and commissioned in December 2004.

Prior to his confirmation to the Court, Judge Lance was in private practice in Idaho. Judge Lance served as Idaho's 31st Attorney General from 1995 to 2003. While serving as Attorney General, Judge Lance also served on the executive committee of the National Association of Attorneys General and as chairman of the Conference of Western Attorneys General. Prior to his election as Attorney General, Judge Lance served two terms in the Idaho House of Representatives and was elected Majority Caucus Chairman during his second term.

Judge Lance was born in McComb, Ohio and grew up on the family farm. He earned his bachelor's degree from South Dakota State University in 1971, where he was a Distinguished Military Student and Graduate. He is a 1973 graduate of the University of Toledo College of Law, where he was a member of the Law Review and named Distinguished Alumnus in 2002.

He began his professional legal career as an Assistant Prosecuting Attorney for Fulton County, Ohio. Judge Lance served in the United States Army, Judge Advocate General Corps from 1974 until 1978 and received the Army Commendation Medal. After completing his military service, Judge Lance established a private law practice in Meridian, Idaho.

In 1998, Judge Lance received the Distinguished Service Award from the National Association of State Veterans Homes for his service to veterans. Judge Lance served as National Commander of The American Legion during 1999 to 2000. He received the Humanitarian Award from the American Legion Auxiliary in 2000 for his work with veterans, active duty military personnel, and their families. The Idaho Council on Domestic Violence and Victim Assistance honored Judge Lance's efforts as Attorney General to combat domestic violence and protect the rights of crime victims with the 2002 Public Policy Leadership Award. In that year, he was also presented with the Profiles in Courage Award awarded by the Conference of Western Attorneys General for his leadership in a closely watched death penalty case. Judge Lance was inducted into the Ohio Veterans Hall of Fame in November 2004.

NOVA is privileged to have Judge Lance join us and enrich our conference program as well as the knowledge and experience of our Spring 2016 conference attendees.

Register NOW for NOVA’s 2016 Spring Conference – March 10-12

The NOVA 2016 Spring Conference will be held at the Tropicana Las Vegas! The conference includes a one-day New Practitioner Session scheduled for Thursday, March 10, 2016. The general seminar, scheduled for Friday and Saturday, March 11-12, is filled with a wide array of interesting and informative topics and presenters.

The NOVA Spring Conference is intended for both new practitioners to the area of veterans’ law and more advanced practitioners. The seminar will increase your knowledge, confidence, and expertise in representing veterans before the United States Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims (CAVC) and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). In addition, your time may be credited to your jurisdiction’s CLE requirements.

Hotel Information: NOVA has reserved a room block at the Tropicana Las Vegas for those who wish to stay at the same location as the conference. The NOVA Room Block Rate is $145 plus tax, per night, single or double occupancy, and is available two days prior and two days after the conference based upon room availability. Room reservations must be made by 5 p.m. Eastern Time on Tuesday, February 9, 2016 for this rate to be honored.

To book your room for the 2016 Spring Conference, please click HERE.

How to Register:

To register via our online form, click HERE.

To register using our hard copy forms, click HERE.

To access NOVA's Spring 2016 Conference Brochure, click HERE.

For more information, click HERE.

Conference Materials:

NOVA does not provide hard copies of conference materials on-site. A few weeks prior to the conference, you'll receive an e-mail to the address with which you registered with a link to download the seminar materials. For this reason, please make sure to provide a unique email address for each registrant when completing your registration.

Some attendees, knowing that NOVA does not provide hard copies on-site, choose to print these out for easy reference. You may also copy the materials to your laptop or tablet, should you plan to bring one to the conference. We recommend you save or print your materials prior to arrival at the conference.

Join Us on Feb. 10 for NOVA’s Webinar on Extraschedular (TDIU) Ratings

NOVA will hold its next webinar – Understanding Extraschedular (TDIU) Ratings – on February 10, 2016 at 2:00 p.m. Eastern Time. NOVA Founding Member Kenneth M. Carpenter, renowned Veterans attorney and nationally recognized speaker, will present the session. NOVA President Glenda Herl will serve as moderator for the event.

This presentation will cover the three ways to seek an extraschedular rating, total ratings under 38 C.F.R. §§ 4.16(a) and (b), and less than total ratings under 38 C.F.R. § 3.321(b)(1).  There will be a discussion of the case law as well as strategies for developing your case to increase the chances for an award.

A pioneer in the field of Veterans Law, Ken is the president of Carpenter Chartered, and has been engaged in the private practice of law in Topeka, Kansas since 1973. With a primary focus on representing psychiatrically disabled veterans, predominantly those with PTSD, the firm specializes in cases involving total disability ratings and earlier effective dates. The firm also handles requests for revisions based on allegations of clear and unmistakable error and survivor claims for dependents.

Please join us on Wednesday, February 10 to learn about extraschedular ratings and how to develop a winning case!

*Register Now! Space is limited to the first 100 registrants.*

Member Registration Fee: $200

Nonmember Registration Fee: $250

To register today, click HERE!

Veterans Law Review Call for Vol. 8 Submissions Closes on Jan. 31

The Veterans Law Review, an online journal publishing in the area of Veterans’ law and jurisprudence, is now accepting submissions for consideration of publication in Volume 8. The submissions cycle for Volume 8 will close on January 31, 2016; until that date, writings may be submitted through Scholastica or ExpressO, or may be sent directly to the Editorial Board via the email below.

The Veterans Law Review actively encourages Veterans’ service organizations, Veterans, and those working on Veterans’ issues to submit original legal writings for consideration for publication. Manuscripts should be typed and double-spaced in Microsoft Word, Times New Roman 12-point font, and should conform to the current edition of the Blue Book: A Uniform System of Citation.

The editors review each manuscript for scholarly merit, clarity, and accuracy and will notify authors of any substantive changes. Authors are invited to discuss potential submissions with the current Veterans Law Review Editorial Board via email at BVAVeteransLawReviewEditor@va.gov.

For more information, contact Caroline B. Fleming, Counsel, Board of Veterans' Appeals, (202) 632-5001.

Brief Notices

Retired CAVC Judge Jonathan R. Steinberg Passes Away

Former Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims (CAVC) Judge Jonathan R. Steinberg passed away on December 21, 2015. Judge Steinberg was nominated by the President of the United States and confirmed by the United States Senate as a Judge of the CAVC in August 1990.

To read more about Judge Steinberg, click HERE.

To read the notice in The Washington Post, click HERE.

 

Hill & Ponton Hires Ret. Brig. Gen. Gregg Maxon as Of Counsel

Hill and Ponton has announced that Retired Brigadier General Richard (Gregg) Maxon is now Of Counsel to Hill & Ponton. His focus will be as a subject area expert on herbicide exposure cases, specifically herbicides used in Thailand during the Vietnam Era, for veterans seeking VA service-connected disability benefits. Gregg has a unique vantage point on this issue because he served in Thailand.

To read the full press release, click HERE.

 

Timothy Franklin Named Top Veterans Lawyer by 5280 Magazine

Veterans Attorney and NOVA Member Timothy R. Franklin has been named a 2016 Top Lawyer in Denver by 5280 magazine. The annual list highlights nearly 400 attorneys voted by their colleagues, contemporaries, and counterparties as the most respected lawyers in 49 specialties, in the Denver metro area. Tim is an attorney at the Law Office of Sean Kendall in Boulder, Colo.

Tim is VA accredited and admitted to the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims (CAVC). He has successfully argued numerous cases on behalf of disabled veterans.  He also prepares veterans for their personal hearings before the BVA or Regional Office and formulates pinpoint strategies to reverse the VA’s denials and quickly obtain the benefits due to his clients.

NOVA congratulates Tim on this fine achievement. To read more about Denver’s Top Lawyers, click HERE. To view Tim’s listing in 5280, click HERE.

 

Add “Renew NOVA Membership” to Your New Year’s “To Do” List

For those NOVA members whose membership expired at the end of 2015, this is a friendly reminder to please renew as soon as possible. If you are unsure when your membership expires, log in to your user profile and click "Manage My Profile." Your membership expiration date will be listed at the top of the page. If your membership expired at the end of 2015, you'll see an expiration date of January 1, 2016.

To renew your membership now, you can do so online or via our hard copy forms which you can then email, fax or mail to NOVA Staff.

To renew online, click HERE.

To renew via our forms, click HERE.

 

Missed NOVA’s Webinar on CAVC Practice Tips? Buy It Today!

On November 18, 2015, NOVA held its Fall Webinar on Practice Tips for Success at the CAVC. In this 60-minute presentation, NOVA Board Member Zachary Stolz shared his proven strategies to get your veteran back to VA with a solid court order. Robert Chisholm, NOVA member and partner of Chisholm, Chisholm & Kilpatrick Ltd. (CCK), moderated the event. Along with best practices, Zach discussed the importance of the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims to your practice, including why you should consider handling cases at this federal level or when to find another attorney to take your claim. The webinar also covered general ways to plead your cases, how to work early remands to get out of court expeditiously, and what you need to know to get paid. To purchase NOVA’s Fall Webinar – Practice Tips for Success at the CAVC, click HERE.

 

Reminder: NOVA D.C. Offices Have Moved to Eye Street, NW

Please be advised that the NOVA Offices have moved. Our new address is just a few blocks south-west of our former office location:

1775 Eye Street, NW, Ste. 1150, Washington, D.C., 20006. Our phone and fax numbers remain the same.

Please contact NOVA Staff if you have any questions or concerns regarding this move.

Visit NOVA’s Read-Only Forum on Regulatory & Legislative News

A new, READ-ONLY forum has been added to the NOVA Forums entitled “Outreach, Regulatory, and Legislative Information.” It contains updates on NOVA’s outreach efforts, VA regulatory action, and relevant legislative information, as posted by Diane Rauber, NOVA Director of Legislative and Regulatory Affairs. Please check out this new forum in the Members-only section of our website to keep abreast of the latest happenings.

Apply for William G. Smith Scholarships by Friday, Jan. 15!

Interested in attending NOVA’s 2016 Spring Conference in Las Vegas but need financial assistance? Scholarships have been created in memory of NOVA Founding Member William G. Smith, Esq., who provided leadership and support to countless practitioners in veterans’ law. These scholarships cover the cost of conference registration only and are available to those advocates with a legitimate need.

If you are an attorney, non-attorney practitioner, law student, or accredited veteran’s service representative, you are eligible to apply for the William G. Smith Scholarship. On your application, you must state why you need assistance and whether you have the resources to cover related conference costs (i.e., travel, lodging, food). The deadline to submit a request for scholarship consideration is Friday, January 15, 2016.

To complete the scholarship application, click HERE.

 

Mark Your Calendar: 2016/17 NOVA Conference Schedule

The 2016/2017 NOVA Conference Schedule is set. Save these dates and plan to join us for exceptional training at a location that’s right for you!

Spring Conference 2016
Las Vegas, NV – March 10-12, 2016
Hotel: Tropicana Las Vegas

Fall Conference 2016
Providence, RI – September 22-24, 2016
Hotel: Omni Providence Hotel

Spring Conference 2017
San Antonio, TX – April 20-22, 2017
Hotel: Hyatt Regency San Antonio Riverwalk

Fall Conference 2017
St. Petersburg, FL – October 12-14, 2017
Hotel: TradeWinds Island Resorts

 

Save the Date: CAVC Judicial Conference Is April 14-15

The CAVC's 13th Judicial Conference will take place on Thursday and Friday, April 14-15, 2016 at the Knight Conference Center at the Newseum (555 Pennsylvania Ave., NW, Washington, D.C.). Lodging suggestions are now available. Please check out the CAVC website HERE for more details.

 

Need Resources? Browse the NOVA Document Library

NOVA staff has posted several new documents on our website for easy reference. Visit the NOVA Document Library today to find these and other valuable resources:

Minutes from the October Board of Directors Meeting:

https://vetadvocates.org/download/2015-10-08-nova-bod-meeting-minutes/

Fall Conference 2015 OGC Presentation: The Ethics of Representing Claimants:
https://vetadvocates.org/download/the-ethics-of-representing-va-claimants/

**Please note and observe the following disclaimers: The posting of this presentation does not constitute an endorsement of NOVA by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). The information contained in the presentation is not to be used without VA’s permission. The VA seal cannot be used without permission from the agency. Please feel free to contact Diane Rauber at drauber@vetadvocates.org if you have any questions.

 

NOVA Welcomes New & Returning Members!

NOVA would like to welcome the following members to the NOVA community. We look forward to meeting you and working with you to help better serve our nations’ veterans:

Eric AbesAbes Baumann, Pittsburgh, PA
William AllisonWilliam T. Allison, a Law Corporation, Shreveport, LA
Daniel ArcherArcher Law, Clermont, FL
Albert BacharachN. Albert Bacharach, Jr., PA, Gainesville, FL
Sengthene BosavanhMilam Law, Sacramento, CA
Hilary ChaneyChaney Law Firm, Arkadelphia, AR
Paula ClamurroNeighborhood Legal Services of Los Angeles County, Los Angeles, CA
Robert DavisLegal Services of Southern Piedmont, Charlotte, NC
William FoxAttorney at Law, Chevy Chase, MD
Gregory GlennGlenn Law Offices, Boca Raton, FL
Jordan HansbroughVietnam Veterans of America, Washington, DC
Aisha HenryMattar, LLC, Williamsville, NY
Christopher HoukGillespie, Shields, Durrant, & Goldfarb, Phoenix, AZ
Chad LawlerN.M.L.B. Veterans Advocacy Group, Inc., Madison, WI
Jessica LevyLevy Law, South Hadley, MA
Joyce LoweLegal Aid of NorthWest Texas, San Angelo, TX
Christina ManningVietnam Veterans of America, Washington, DC
Randall MansourDisability Attorneys of Michigan, Warren, MI
Mary MaxcyCascadia Disability Law, Portland, OR
Eric PangburnSzczygielski & Pangburn, Manitowoc, WI
Maurice Parker, Jr.Maurice Parker, Attorney at Law, Romeoville, IL
Erika Riggs Disability Attorneys of Michigan, Warren, MI
Michael SheaUniversity of Denver, Sturm College of Law, Veterans Advocacy Project, Aurora, CO
Sean SullivanSullivan Law Office, P.C., Lawton, OK
Sean TworneyGibson Dunn & Crutcher, Irvine, CA
Brian WalkerBrian Walker Law Firm, PLLC, Fort Worth, TX
Melinda WilliThe Law Offices of Paul M. Goodson, P.C., Charlotte, NC

 

 

 

 

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