Advocating for Veterans: The Basics on VA Benefits, Discharge Upgrades, and Veteran Cultural Competency 2021

  • Military/Veterans
  • Continuing Legal Education Program (CLE)

Why You Should Attend
There are over 18 million veterans in the U.S. Many of them are not aware of the benefits to which they are entitled. Medical, housing, and financial assistance are available to those who have served in the military, but many veterans most in need are not receiving assistance from the VA. Navigating the VA’s claims system and the Department of Defense’s discharge upgrade process is often difficult and complex. Attorneys play an essential role in removing barriers to life-sustaining benefits, by:
• Developing evidence to “service-connect” their injuries or disabilities.
• Using current medical or mental health evidence to document the severity of symptoms for accurate disability ratings.
• Advocating for VA eligibility determinations for those given less-than-fully honorable discharges for minor disciplinary infractions consequent to Post-Traumatic Stress or Traumatic Brain Injury symptoms.

What You Will Learn
Nearly 45% of veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan seek compensation from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) for service-related injuries; 30% of these veterans who file for VA benefits include claims for Post-Traumatic Stress. Many of those who should receive benefits will be denied. Many service members with less-than-honorable discharges who may be VA eligible are unaware of their legal right to pursue VA benefits, and of those who do apply, more than 90% will be denied. All of them will wait months or years for the VA to issue decisions on their claims.

Learn how to navigate the VA claims process and to become an effective advocate for veterans in need. This all-day program will provide an overview of VA disability law and military discharge review law. You will gain an understanding of different types of military discharges, why they are important, and how you can help veterans with less than Honorable discharges.
• The three one-hour morning sessions provide the basics you need to represent veterans before the VA. The morning session fulfills the VA’s requirement for qualifying CLE within the first 12 months of your VA accreditation.
• The 1:45 session, Veteran Cultural Competency: Combat to Community will help veterans’ advocates to understand the challenges that veterans face in their transition to a noncombat community, and provide tips on interviewing and providing legal services to veterans with disabilities.
• The 2:45 to 5:00 sessions will provide attorneys with the tools that they need to assist veterans in upgrading their discharge status and removing stigmatizing information from their discharge documents.

Who Should Attend
Attorneys seeking meaningful pro bono opportunities and any advocate who wants to help change the life of a veteran with a disability. Attorneys seeking to meet VA’s CLE requirements for new and continuing VA accreditation should also attend. Finally, attorneys who hope to expand their practice areas to include veterans’ cases where fees are available should register as well.