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Partnership brings free legal aid for VA claims

The Veterans Administration and the Nevada Department of Veterans Services have invested time and money into helping veterans get through life. Most veterans can obtain free medical assistance. In thousands of cases, veterans who have been injured while in service are eligible for compensation. Locally, veterans who are disabled can receive automobile parking advantages. Now, a new local service has been announced that will help eligible veterans obtain legal advice.

A historic new partnership with the National Veterans Legal Services Program will create incomparable free access to legal representation for Nevada veterans and their families in appeals before the U.S. Court of Appeals for veterans’ claims. Boulder City veterans seeking VA appeals may find this new service of great benefit to them.

When the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs denies disability claims, veterans have the right to appeal. This new service will provide free legal representation in support of appeal cases. The process begins when the organization reviews a claim in which a veteran’s appeal to the Board of Veterans Appeal, the highest authority within the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, is denied and determines there are grounds for an appeal. When this occurs, the veteran or the veteran’s family can be represented at no cost.

Free legal representation in support of appeal cases will continue through this partnership. In addition to the assistance to veterans with claims appeals, the program will assist Nevada veterans with discharge upgrades. This will help veterans access benefits they may be wrongfully denied due to a less-than-honorable discharge. In recent years, more less-than-honorable discharges have been investigated and often reversed.

The partnership results in the best of both worlds for the veterans according to Department of Veterans Director Fred Wagar. Nevada veterans will now have access to a national legal team that will defend their rights to ensure fairness in the disability benefits arena. Additionally, the department will capitalize on access to the extensive training and professional development portfolio that the legal services program will offer to Nevada team members.

The National Veterans Legal Services Program is a nonprofit that has worked since 1981 to ensure that the government delivers to the nation’s 22-million veterans and active-duty personnel the benefits they have earned because of disabilities resulting from their military service to the country.

“We are thrilled to partner with the Nevada Department of Veterans Services. We welcome the opportunity to leverage our shared expertise to help Nevada veterans and their families receive the benefits they have earned and are entitled to receive,” said the program’s Executive Director Paul Wright.

The legal service program also offers training in veterans’ law to advocates so they can efficiently help veterans secure benefits from the VA. The goal of such trainings is to teach advocates how to obtain the correct amount of VA benefits for deserving veterans (and their family members) at the earliest possible time.

The program has also conducted training for national veterans’ service organizations such as the American Legion, Vietnam Veterans of America, Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States, AMVETS and the Military Order of the Purple Heart. It also offers continuous live and recorded training and professional development programs for veterans’ service officers, claims agents and attorneys who are accredited to represent veterans before the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. (Eligible Boulder City veterans’ groups might consider applying for the training.)

Its webinar series provides a 90-minute training on each of 10 different topics in veterans’ law every year. The webinars are approved for continuing legal education credit by the Virginia State Bar and can be used to satisfy the attorney and claims agent requirements for maintaining accreditation by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. An online course is also available. To learn more about the program, visit www.nvlsp.org.

Chuck N. Baker is an award-winning journalist and a Vietnam War Purple Heart veteran. He can be heard at 8:30 a.m. each Sunday on KKVV-AM hosting “That’s America to Me” and occasionally on KUNV-FM hosting “America’s Veterans, Today and Tomorrow.”

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