Veterans’ Advocate Insider – November 2013 Edition

President's Message: Reassessing NOVA's Mission, Purposes, and Procedures

It is important for any organization to periodically reassess its operation and mission.  NOVA is now more than 20 years old and such an assessment seems appropriate.  As many of you know, the Board created a special committee comprised of Board members Mike Leonard, Rick Little, and Todd Wesche to consider NOVA’s mission, purposes, and procedures.  The Committee conducted an online survey of our members and held an open forum at the fall seminar.  The formal report of the Committee was released on October 23, 2013 and has been made available to our members.

As is evident from this report, the Committee expended considerable effort in this endeavor.  It is also apparent that this subject is important to our members who have varying views on NOVA’s mission and purposes.  The primary issues relate to whether NOVA’s main focus should be directed towards its members rather than veterans and whether NOVA should actively undertake a lobbying role.  Needless to say, certain changes to how NOVA operates would require additional resources and could impact our organizational status as a 501(c)(6) entity.  Additional funds would be required and perhaps a new legal entity would be formed.  All of the Committee’s recommendations will be considered in depth, but such consideration cannot be properly addressed at a Board meeting held telephonically.  Consequently, this issue will be deferred until the full Board meets again during the spring seminar.

I write this to assure you that we did not simply go through an exercise only to bury the report in a file never to be seen again.  This is an important topic for us as an organization and it deserves careful study.

My thanks to everyone who participated in the survey, and a special thank you to the Committee for its hard work in addressing this issue in a very comprehensive manner.  We will keep you posted as more information becomes available.

I hope you have a splendid Thanksgiving celebration with family and friends.

Michael R. Viterna


Giving Thanks to All for a Wonderful Year at NOVA

As our nation celebrates Thanksgiving, we thought this a most appropriate time to reflect upon the wonderful year that NOVA has experienced with you and our veterans community.  2013 was a particularly noteworthy year, as NOVA marked its Twentieth Anniversary as an organization.   The gala celebration in Washington, D.C. was surely a highlight for many.  It was the first time NOVA hosted an evening event of this type to honor our founders, our leadership, our long-time members, and all those who work on behalf of NOVA to further our mission.  We are thankful for their dedication.

In recognition of this milestone, we also prepared a written history of our organization from 1993 to the present.  What started out as a modest attempt to document the past turned into a full-fledged book as founding members, officers past and present, staff, and friends shared their memories.  The camaraderie displayed by the many contributors involved in this project was a testament to the enthusiastic advocacy at the core of NOVA.  We are pleased that A History of NOVA (1993 to 2013) is in the process of being registered with the Library of Congress and thankful that this record exists for future generations.

This year, NOVA also prevailed in a landmark case to preserve the due process rights of veterans before the Board of Veterans’ Appeals.  Over the course of more than a year, NOVA had sought to protect these critical rights and ensure that all veterans would have the opportunity for a meaningful appeal.  We are gratified that the Court ultimately declared the VA’s conduct unlawful and approved the proposed plan prepared by VA in consultation with NOVA to remedy all harm caused to veterans.  We once again thank Roman Martinez and his legal team at Latham & Watkins LLP for their superb effort on behalf of NOVA.

Over the past year, NOVA has represented witness testimony before Congress on matters of utmost importance to veterans.  The subject of these hearings have included:  Focusing on People: A Review of VA’s Plans for Employee Training, Accountability, and Workload Management to Improve Disability Claims Processing; The Ruth Moore Act of 2013 (H.R. 671); and Why Are Veterans Waiting Years on Appeal?: A Review of the Post-Decision Process for Appealed Veterans’ Disability Benefits Claims.  We are thankful for the extra time and effort taken by NOVA members to represent our views on Capitol Hill.


As a result of this visibility, lawmakers on Capitol Hill have increasingly turned to NOVA for guidance during the decision-making process.  Most recently, NOVA participated in a Veterans Appeals Roundtable hosted by the House Veterans’ Affairs Subcommittee on Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs.  NOVA was honored to accept the invitation to be among key stakeholders at these discussions.  The roundtable afforded NOVA a unique opportunity to set forth our position that the claims process must be simplified, and to once again propose the elimination of the Statement of Case (SOC) submission requirement and the VA Form 9.


In addition, our Regulatory Comment Committee, chaired by Andrew Rutz, has continued to craft comments on the VA’s proposed rules on behalf of NOVA, submitting them for consideration throughout the year.  Examples include:  Secondary Service Connection for Diagnosable Illnesses Associated With Traumatic Brain Injury (RIN 2900-AN89), and Hospital Care and Medical Services for Camp Lejeune Veterans (RIN 2900-AO78).  By reviewing these proposed rules for clarity, consistency, and common sense, NOVA is able to seek changes that are in the best interests of our nation’s veterans, before the regulation becomes final and far more difficult to amend.  We are thankful for the opportunity to be heard in this way.


Of course, NOVA held two very successful conferences in the past year, fulfilling our mission to provide exceptional educational opportunities for those who represent veterans and their dependents.  The spring conference in Washington, D.C. and the fall conference in San Diego drew participants from across the country together for training as well as kinship.  We are thankful that representatives from VA, the courts, and the field of VA Law chose to be guest speakers and presenters at our seminars, considered by many to be the gold-standard.


NOVA continues to grow at a steady pace as more advocates hear about our organization from members like you.  We want to thank you for your support over this past year and hope that you will continue to be a vibrant member of the organization in the coming year.

NOVA Undertakes Document Library Transformation

As you are aware by now, with the launch of our new, redesigned website, NOVA transitioned from the old “Wiki” system to a new Document Library.  We understand that this new system has been difficult to use and even frustrating at times.  As a result, the NOVA Board and Staff began researching options to optimize your user experience when navigating the Document Library system.

After conducting much research, networking with experts, and weighing many options, NOVA Staff has begun the process of converting all existing NOVA documents to searchable, readable, OCR (optical character recognition) format.  Once the conversion of some 2,500 items is complete, the idea is that these OCR documents will be better integrated to work with our new website, enabling members to easily search and download them.

Following the conversion, NOVA Board members and member volunteers will begin the task of reorganizing our vast library.  The current categories were created over a 20-year period as NOVA grew from just 30 members to more than 500, with new categories being created or deleted as needed.  Now is the perfect time to take a good look at the documents within the library, and their categories – and develop a solid organizational system -- one that is intuitive and intelligent, giving consideration to those resources that are most important to members.

Our website developers investigated ways to decrease the initial loading time of the Document Library, and discovered an error in the code that caused an unnecessary search query to run over 150 times, slowing down loading time.  The coding has been fixed, and loading time of the Document library has decreased dramatically.  This is just the first step in many planned changes.  Our goal is to implement an enhanced, easily navigable system that members will come to use as one of their greatest resources.

We appreciate your patience and understanding as we work toward improving NOVA’s resources.  We have undertaken these measures to increase the value of your membership by providing a new and impeccable library system for our dedicated members.

Chief Judge Kasold Announces 25th Anniversary of the Court

NOVA is pleased to share an announcement issued by Chief Judge Bruce E. Kasold of the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims to commemorate the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Court, which was marked with a private ceremonial session in the courtroom on November 20.



U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims

Celebrates 25th Anniversary


"That we have a specialized veteran's court is a credit to our national commitment to do justice

by, quote, him who shall have borne the battle, in President Lincoln's timeless words."

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia at the twelfth judicial conference of

the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims, April 2013


WASHINGTON — Chief Judge Bruce E. Kasold is pleased to announce the 25th anniversary the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims, a court created with the November 1988 enactment of the Veterans' Judicial Review Act. With the creation of the court, our nation's military veterans and their survivors and beneficiaries were provided–for the first time–the right to appeal adverse decisions of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) on their claims for benefits.


Before the court was created, generations of veterans dissatisfied with VA decisions had no judicial forum in which to challenge VA's administrative rulings. When Congress enacted the Veterans' Judicial Review Act of 1988, it answered a decades-long call for judicial oversight for veterans.


At the court's first convention, then-Chief Justice of the United States William H. Rehnquist said, "[The U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims] is going to . . . engage, I dare say, in some very important work."


Indeed, since the court first convened, veterans have brought approximately 60,000 appeals before the court. These veterans include those whose service and sacrifice have seen the nation through World War II and the Korean, Vietnam and Gulf Wars, as well as intervening periods of peace and recent years of combat in Afghanistan.


In considering these appeals over the past 25 years, the court has crafted decisions that have promoted greater accountability and uniformity in VA's claims processing. The court's bench and bar have also worked to encourage representation of veterans and have significantly lowered veterans' pro se rates before the court. And, by taking oral arguments outside the traditional courtroom to the nation's law schools, the court is inspiring law students and young lawyers to represent veterans.


Last month, the court held an oral argument at Harvard Law School. Last year, the court held an oral argument at Yale Law School.


The court will mark its anniversary with a private ceremonial session in its courtroom on November 20.

Chief Judge Kasold and his eight colleagues on the bench celebrate these achievements and the opportunity to provide justice for veterans and help fulfill–in the words of President Barrack Obama–the "sacred trust with those who wear the uniform of the United States of America[, ] a commitment that begins at enlistment, and [] must never end."

Harvard Law School Hosts the CAVC for First Time

On October 30, 2013, Harvard Law School (HLS) made history when its Veterans Legal Clinic hosted the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans’ Claims (CAVC) for the first time ever.  The law students argued the case of Ausmer v. Shinseki before a three-judge panel in the Ames Courtroom.  This event marked only the second instance in CAVC history that law students have presented oral argument to the Court.


The HLS Veterans Legal Clinic, in partnership with the firm of Chisholm Chisholm & Kilpatrick and Disabled American Veterans, represented Appellant Wilson J. Ausmer, Jr. in the case pending before the CAVC.  Christopher Melendez, along with fellow students Bradley Hinshelwood and Juan Arguello, represented the Appellant.


The case of Ausmer v. Shinseki involves an appeal by a disabled combat veteran who served in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Lieutenant Colonel Ausmer was serving in Afghanistan when the Board of Veterans’ Appeals mailed notice of its decision to his home address in Missouri.  In that decision, the Board denied Lt. Col. Ausmer’s claim for disability benefits for an injury to his lower extremities.  Serving in Afghanistan, he was unable to pursue his right to appeal until after he returned from his deployment and readjusted to civilian life—after the appeal deadline had passed.  For a Case Summary, CLICK HERE.


The HLS students advocated on behalf of the Appellant on the question of whether Lt. Col. Ausmer is entitled to statutory and equitable tolling of the 120-day period to file a Notice of Appeal at the CAVC.  The students argued that tolling is not required at all if the Court finds that VA provided inadequate notice to Lt. Col. Ausmer of his procedural rights and/or improper notice of the underlying decision.  Ausmer’s legal team also argued that there were defects in mailing the decision and that VA did not consider the challenges faced by the veteran upon returning to civilian life.

The judges posed for photographs with the students before the proceedings and held a Q&A session with the courtroom audience following the oral arguments.  They noted that the Court started traveling to law schools as part of an educational campaign in 2001.  “We want to introduce students to the idea that there is veterans law,” said Chief Judge Bruce E. Kasold.

It is “an area that they can either pursue working at the court, or in private practice or [with] the VA, or potentially as a pro-bono counsel,” added Judge Mary J. Schoelen.  “We have a very robust pro bono program before our court.”

The Court is expected to issue its decision in Ausmer v. Shinseki in the coming months.


To read full coverage in the Harvard Gazette, CLICK HERE.

The Latest on Airborne Hazards and Open Burn Pit Registry

An overview of the Airborne Hazards and Open Burn Pit Registry was presented at the Veterans Service Organization (VSO) Brief held on November 20, 2013.  Key points are presented below:

What is it?  Public Law 112-260 Section 201, enacted January 10, 2013, required VA to establish the registry by January 10, 2014.  The goal of the registry is to help VA ascertain and monitor the health effects of veterans who were potentially exposed to smoke from burn pits, particulate matter, and other airborne environmental hazards.

Who is eligible?  Eligibility for PL 112-260 includes veterans and service members who on or after September 11, 2001, deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan and during such deployment were based or stationed at a location where an open burn pit was used.  VA plans to expand eligibility to veterans and service members who served in the Southwest Asia theater of operations on or after August 2, 1990, or in Djibouti on or after September 11, 2001.

How is it accessed?  Once the registry is established, VA will distribute a link to veterans to the online website through social media and VA websites.  Veterans can prepare by requesting a “DS Login” in advance with this web link:  Veterans without Internet access will be provided information on resources to assist them.  The questionnaire should take 30 to 40 minutes to complete.

What happens next?  After completing the survey, participants will be able to save and print a copy for their records or use the questionnaire responses to discuss with a health care provider.  Veterans will receive a registry participation letter in the mail with a fact sheet listing resources and benefits available to them.

VA disability compensation and the burn pit registry are separate and unrelated programs.  Participation in the burn pit registry and any medical evaluations related to it does not confirm or deny a veteran’s exposure during military service for purposes of a disability compensation claim.

To access the Registry Overview, CLICK HERE.

How to Purchase & Implement Legal Case Management Software

When planning and executing your purchase of legal case management software, the old adage holds true.  A failure to plan is a plan to fail.  Planning your strategy for choosing, purchasing, and implementing your software is essential.  Investing some extra time at the start will reap huge benefits for you in the long run.

Before you start shopping for case management software, make sure you do the following:

  1. Decide exactly what you need the program to do.  Make a list of your “must haves” and “would like to haves.”  Carefully consider what you don’t like about your current way of managing your caseload, and how you would change it if you could wave a magic wand.
  2. Make note of the specifications of your current hardware.  Case management software is robust, and may require that you upgrade your hardware for optimal performance.  Have your list of current specs handy when you’re shopping.

During the actual research phase, the following steps are essential:

  1. Seek recommendations from other law firms of a similar size and specialty.  Case management software is not a “one size fits all” commodity, but it’s helpful to have an insider’s view of not only the program itself, but also the quality of the technical support and training to back it up.
  2. After compiling a list of possible programs, request live (either online or onsite) demonstrations of the product.  Include as many of your key staff members as possible in the demonstration; often, your colleagues will think of questions that you may overlook.  Request multiple demonstrations of the same software, if necessary; you want to make sure you’re selecting the program that is the best fit for your firm.
  3. If you are currently using case management software and are considering switching to another program, consider how you will transfer your data from your current platform to the new program.  Ask questions about data conversion and alternatives for migrating your data.
  4. After the live demonstration, request access to a demo copy of the software.  Get some hands-on practice with the program, and allow your employees to do likewise.

After you purchase your software, planning and executing an appropriate implementation strategy is crucial to success:

  1. Purchase adequate training for your staff.  If you skimp on anything, don’t let it be the training! According to Andrew Adkins, III, of the Legal Technology Institute, insufficient training is the #1 reason that case management software implementation fails.  Require that attorneys, as well as other staff, participate in the training.  If the attorneys don’t show their support by attending the training session(s), your staff won’t value the importance of it, either.
  2. Pick one “team captain” for every five employees at your firm.  Your team captains should be people who are technologically proficient, patient with others, and are respected by their colleagues.  These captains can help with follow-up training after you “go live” with your case management system.
  3. Schedule benchmarks for implementation.  Often, it’s better to take small steps, rather than rolling out the entire program all at once.  You may decide that you want to have your document templates completed by a certain date, your Rolodex populated by another date, and so on.  Based on accomplishing these benchmarks, you may then plan your “go live” date.  Some firms use a slightly different approach by having a pilot group (a cross section of employees from the entire firm) use the program first.  That way, you can work with the software company to make any necessary adjustments prior to your “go live” date.
  4. After training, and before your “go live” date, conduct a firm-wide meeting to decide your firm’s protocol for data entry.  For example, though it may seem trivial, you should decide how everyone will abbreviate certain words in your list of contacts.  Will you use acronyms where possible, or spell out all words?  That seemingly insignificant decision can have a huge impact on database searches, documents, and reports in the future.  Invite a representative from the software vendor to participate in your meeting; he or she may be able to offer some insight gleaned from working with other firms.
  5. Don’t try to implement another software change at the same time you go live with your new case management software.  For example, if you decide you’re ready to change word processing programs, schedule that project several months down the road.  Otherwise, you’ll likely have a rather frustrated staff!

Purchasing case management software may be a wise investment for your firm.  But, be sure you give due diligence to selecting and implementing your program.

Note:  This “How to” blog is brought to you by and presented here for informational purposes only.  It does not represent an endorsement by NOVA of any products or services offered by Prevail or any other company.


Brief Notices

Judge Greenberg to Address 2014 Spring Conference

NOVA Staff is pleased to report that Judge William S. Greenberg of the United States Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims has agreed to speak at our 2014 Spring Conference in Pittsburgh.  We greatly appreciate the tremendous consideration given by Chief Judge Kasold and the Court in granting NOVA the privilege of welcoming Judge Greenberg as a guest speaker.  We are currently working on the spring program schedule, and look forward to sharing the details with you as they become available.

Senate VAC Advances Tobias to Chair BVA

On November 19, the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs confirmed the nomination of Ms. Constance B. Tobias to chair the Board of Veterans’ Appeals.  Ms. Tobias has served as the Health and Human Services Departmental Appeals Board Chair since April 2007.  Prior to that, her career accomplishments include Chief Veterans Law Judge of the Board of Veterans' Appeals, Department of Veterans Affairs; Counsel to the Chairman, Department of Veterans Affairs; and staff attorney, Department of Veterans Affairs.

During its confirmation hearing, the Senate VAC also approved Mr. Sloan D. Gibson to be the VA’s deputy secretary and Ms. Linda S. Schwartz to be assistant secretary for policy and planning.  All three nominations are subject to confirmation by the full Senate.

Plan Ahead for the Spring Conference in Pittsburgh

It’s never too early to make plans to attend a NOVA conference!  Our Spring Conference will be held at the Omni William Penn Hotel, Pittsburgh from April 24–26, 2014.  If you were unable to attend our Fall Conference in San Diego, perhaps this East Coast venue is right for you!


We are also pleased to announce these locations and dates for upcoming conferences:


Fall 2014 – Disney Coronado Springs Hotel, Orlando – September 18-20, 2014

Spring 2015 – Hyatt Regency Financial District, San Francisco – April 16-18, 2015

Fall 2015 – Westin Michigan Avenue, Chicago – October 8-10, 2015


Recent Fast Letters Posted to Document Library

NOVA Staff has posted recent Fast Letters issued by VA on our website for your convenience.  Fast Letters 13-25, 13-26, and 13-27 relate to pension management issues, and Fast Letter 13-28 is an Updated § 5103 Notice for Integrated Disability Evaluation System (IDES) participants and service members participating in pre-discharge programs.


To access the Fast Letters and attachments, go to the NOVA Document Library and search under Veterans Administration: Fast Letters and Training.


Or, you may click on these links:  FL13-25; FL13-26; FL13-27; FL13-28.



Time to Renew Your NOVA Membership 


On November 14, staff sent out renewal notice emails, including the 2014 membership application form and related documents.  If you have not already done so, please take a few minutes to renew.  As a nonprofit, NOVA relies upon your annual support to sustain the organization.


NOVA Staff and the Board of Directors continually work to improve the benefits and services you receive as members and strive to create added value through new programs.  Your renewal letter highlights these Members-Only services.  We hope you look it over to make sure you are taking advantage of everything NOVA has to offer.

The dues for sustaining members have remained the same for 2014.  Sustaining members can reduce their dues through our incentive program, by sponsoring one new member and saving $50 or two new members and saving $100.

Also, the Membership Application enables you to provide additional information about your practice.  This new information will be used to create a Members-Only Directory for sustaining members who wish to contact each other.  The Members-Only Directory will NOT be available to the public.  We have also updated policies related to the NOVA Forums and Document Library.

If you have any questions regarding your renewal, please contact Casey at or (202) 587-5708.



VBA Issues Guidance on Fraud/Phishing Scam

On behalf of the Office of Field Operations, the VBA issued guidance on how to address inquires regarding a recently discovered fraud/phishing scam by a marketing company.  The company attempts to obtain personal information from callers and uses toll free numbers that are similar to the VBA’s toll free numbers.

To review the Fraud/Phishing Scam FAQ document, CLICK HERE.





Check Out the Latest News from the CAVC Bar


The CAVC Bar Association has just released the Fall 2013 edition of its Veterans Law Journal.  This issue includes coverage of the DSM-V program, remarks from Chief Judge Kasold, an inside look at Goodman, Allen and Filetti, case write-ups, and book reviews.  To access an electronic copy, CLICK HERE.

In other news, the CAVC Bar is now accepting membership applications for the coming year (October 2013 to September 2014).  Whether you need to renew or you are interesting in joining the CAVC Bar, now is the time to do so.   For membership rates and electronic registration, please go to 

Lastly, the CAVC Bar will host a Happy Hour at the City Club of Washington on December 5, 2013 from 5:30 to 7:30 pm.  Please mark your calendar and plan to attend this special event!


Welcome New NOVA Members!

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

Steven Alfasi - Gaines, Novick, Ponzini, Cossu & Venditti, LLP, White Plains, NY

Matthew Ames - Gifford, Dearing, & Abernathy, LLP, Los Angeles, CA

Rebecca Anderson - Cummings & Anderson, LLC, Spartanburg, SC

David Bander - Bander, Bander & Alves, Concord, MA

Brooks Benson - Peter M. Hobaica, LLC, Utica, NY

Beach Brooks - Brooks Law Group, P.A., Winter Haven, FL

Thomas Bultman - Bryan Law Firm of SC, LLP, Sumter, SC

David Camp - Access Disability, LLC, St. Louis, MO

Dianna Cannon - Cannon Disability Law, Salt Lake City, UT

W. Christopher Castro - Axelrod & Associates, PA, Myrtle Beach, SC

Javier Centonzio - Bosley & Bratch, Clearwater, FL

Stacey Clark - Morgan & Morgan, PA, Jacksonville, FL

James Comerford - Comerford Law Office, LLC, Chicago, IL

Matthew Crist - Richard A. Dezio, P.C., Alexandria, VA

Maureen Curran - Berger, Miller & Strager, PC, Detroit, MI

Scott Davenport - Manning & Kass, Ellrod, Ramirez, Trester, LLP, Los Angeles, CA

Danielle Deurmier - Law Office of Mary Anne Royle, PS, Inc., Vancouver, WA

Kathleen Devereaux - Devereaux & Pashler, Kenmore, NY

Paul Dombeck - The Law Office of Paul J. Dombeck, PLLC, Phoenix, AZ

Angela Drake - University of Missouri School of Law, Columbia, MO

Robert Dwyer - Florida Legal Services, Newberry, FL

Joseph C. Edwards - Edwards Law Office, Haverhill, MA

John Eichorn - John F. Eichorn, Attorney at Law, Rockingham, NC

Kent A. Eiler - Tully Rinckey, PLLC, Albany, NY

Phillip Feliciano - Phillip L. Feliciano, P.C., Kensington, MD

Nancy Foti - Goodman, Allen & Filetti, PLLC, Virginia Beach, VA

Jeffrey Freedman - Jeffrey Freedman Attorneys, PLLC, Buffalo, NY

Charles Griffin III - Kirschbaum, Nanney, Keenan & Griffin, P.A., Raleigh, NC

Tom Hagen - Bradley & Guzzetta, LLC, Woodbury, MN

Edward Harness - Veteran Benefits Help Center, Milwaukee, WI

Harvey Harris - Harris Federal Law Firm, Lexington, KY

Michael Horowitz - Matheson & Horowitz, P.A., Vero Beach, FL

Lewis Insler - Insler and Hermann, LLP, Terrytown, NY

Leopold F. Joh - Leopold F. Joh, P.C., Franklin, GA

Hayes Johnson - Sheehan & Johnson, PLLC., Gulfport, MS

Mandy Kelly - Disability Attorneys of Michigan- Stu Johnson & Associates, P.C., Warren, MI

Melissa Kenney - KP Law, LLC, Tualatin, OR

Thomas P.F. Kiely - Thomas P.F. Kiely, PLLC, Arlington, VA

Micah Lemons - Vietnam Veterans of America, Silver Spring, MD

Jacob Littledave - United Keetoowah Band of Cherokees, Tahlequah, OK

Scott London - The Law Office of Fred S. London, P.C., Baltimore, MD

Joseph Lyon - The Lyon Firm, Cincinnati, OH

Jason Manne - Office of General Counsel, Department of Public Welfare, Pittsburgh, PA

Steve Manning - Manning & Kass, Ellrod, Ramirez, Trester, LLP, Los Angeles, CA

Lilli Marder - Marder & Associates, LLC, Miami, FL

Dianne McNamara - The Ironwood Law Firm PLLC, Fountain Hills, AZ

Jane Merrill - Hawthorne Merrill Law, LLC, Greenwood, SC

Julee Milham - Julee Milham Attorney at Law, St Pete Beach, FL

Brian Molloy - Lanham Blackwell, P.A., Bangor, ME

Taylor Mossman-Fletcher - Mossman Law Office, LLP, Boise, ID

Kristopher Motschenbacher - Manning & Kass, Ellrod, Ramirez, Trester, LLP, Los Angeles, CA

Erwin Nepomuceno - Manning & Kass, Ellrod, Ramirez, Trester, LLP, Los Angeles, CA

Danielle Obiorah - Employment Rights Law Firm of Danielle Obiorah, P.C., McDonough, GA

Amy Odom - National Veterans Legal Services Program, Washington, DC

Sarah Overton - Disability Benefits, LLC, Kemah, TX

Sonya Pence - Law Office of Sonya L. Pence, Pensacola, FL

James Perciavalle - Veterans Advocates Group, LLC, Sewickley, PA

Teri Pollett-Hinkle - Teri A. Pollett-Hinkle Attorney At Law, Marion, IN

Gino Pulito - Pulito & Associates, Elyria, OH

Eugene Ramirez - Manning & Kass, Ellrod, Ramirez, Trester, LLP, Los Angeles, CA

Heith Reynolds - Wolfe, Williams, Rutherford & Reynolds, Norton, VA

Risa Rohrberger - Kazmierczak & Kazmierczak, LLP, Oakland, NJ

Troy Rosasco - Turley, Redmond, Rosasco & Rosasco, LLP, Ronkonkoma, NY

Monera Seliem - Wolf and Brown, LLC, Haddonfield, NJ

Patrick Sheehan - Sheehan Law Firm, PLLC, Ocean Springs, MS

Tim Staggs - Arnholt Law Office, Columbus, IN

David Standridge - Justice Legal Group, Albuquerque, NM

Roger Stanfield - Roger Stanfield, Attorney, Jackson, TN

MacKenzie Tiernay - Center for Veterans Advancement, Los Angeles, CA

Talia Timmins - Law Offices of Joseph L. Bornstein, Portland, OR

Robert Turkewitz - Law Office of Robert M. Turkewitz, LLC, Charleston, SC

David Valadez - David R. Valadez, P.C., Tucson, AZ

Alan Valleau - Veterans Benefit Connection, LLC, Wayne, MI

Zachary VanDyke - Zachary A. VanDyke, PA, Panama City, FL

Vernon Williams - Wolfe, Williams, Rutherford, & Reynolds, Kingsport, TN

Laurie Yadoff - Coast to Coast Legal Aid of South Florida, Plantation, FL

Tamara Zivot - Law Office of Tamara Zivot, Oakland, CA


Reminder:  Training is Required Every 24 Months

NOVA members must attend at least one training conference (Spring or Fall) every 24 months, as stipulated in our by-laws.  This requirement ensures that NOVA advocates meet the highest standards in the field of veterans’ law.

Our membership records indicate that only a small percentage of members have not met this requirement.  If you have any concerns regarding your status, please contact Casey at (202) 587-5708 or



Two NOVA Webinars Slated for 2014


NOVA is committed to fulfilling its mission as an educational organization by providing a variety of opportunities for advocates to continue their training throughout the year.  In addition to our semi-annual conferences in spring and fall, we introduced webinars to our training schedule, beginning in January 2012.  These webinars enable members to take advantage of top-notch veterans’ law training presented by experts from the convenience of home or office.


At the Annual Meeting in San Diego, the Board of Directors renewed its goal to present at least two webinars per year.  As we plan these upcoming webinars, please feel free to let us know about topics of interest to you.  Webinars are intended to provide focused training on a specific aspect of veterans’ law.  Topics/presenters to date have included Provisions of 38 C.F.R. 4.16 (Kenneth Carpenter), Writs of Mandamus (Robert Chisholm), and Exploring 3.156 and Effective Dates (Barbara Cook).

If you have not already done so, consider participating in a NOVA webinar to supplement your training between seminars.  Webinars are advertised on our website, in the Week in Review and this newsletter, as well as via email blasts to members.

To submit a topic, please send your suggestion via email to either Katy at or Casey at




Past Newsletters

To read other editions of our Veterans' Advocate Insider, please click HERE.