Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Agent Orange Exposure to C-123 Aircrews Not In Vietnam 1972-1982

Between 1972 and 1982, up to 2,100 U.S. Air Force (AF) Reserve personnel trained and worked on C-123 aircraft previously used to spray Agent Orange (AO) during Operation Ranch Hand (ORH) in the Vietnam War.
AO residue was found on those aircraft. However, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) considers AF Reservists who served in ORH C-123s ineligible for health care and disability coverage under the Agent Orange Act of 1991.
Recently, VA asked the Institute of Medicine (IOM) to evaluate whether service in ORH C-123s could have exposed AF Reservists to herbicide residues at levels harmful to their health. IOM found:
  • The AF reservists would have experienced some exposure to chemicals from herbicide residue when working inside ORH C-123s. 
  • It is plausible that, at least in some cases (which cannot be associated with specific individuals), the reservists’ exposure exceeded health guidelines for workers in enclosed settings. Thus, some reservists quite likely had problems - as the report puts it, "non-trivial increases in their risks of adverse health outcomes."
  • If your client worked on those planes during that time, consult the Agent Orange Registry at your local VA Health Care Facility. The Client Does Not Have To Have Been In Or Near Vietnam - just working on those C-123s 1972-1982s. If you don't know where the Agent Orange registry is, ask at the information desk. It is not certain that VA will act on this, but it seems likely and the client has earned help for any AO-related problems. This can include medical assistance and disability pay. NOTE WELL: disability pay typically relates back to the day on which a claim has been filed. It is therefore very important to file a claim immediately, even if not all the documentation is available to complete a claim. If your client uses the online claim system, the start date is the day on which the claim STARTED to be filed, not the date on which the claim was completed. This can be an important distinction if it takes your client time to get all the documentation. Do not delay. As a general rule, your client can get the help they need filing a claim through their preferred VSO, but if they advocate delaying for any reason, your client may be better served going to the next one.
  • If your client did not work on those planes but had exposure to Agent Orange in other ways, check with the Agent Orange Registry. This report is the direct result of an affected veteran advocating not for himself but for his comrades, with a long campaign of calls, letters and documentation. If the client is not currently within the rules, the rules can be changed - read more at Dogged Reservist Behind Win for Ailing C-123 Crewmen
Learn More:

Sunday, January 4, 2015

January 12: Webcast - The Myths and Mysteries of Substance Use Disorder #MCLE

Many lawyers suffer from substance use disorder – more than is typical in the general population. Many  Fortunately, there are many attorneys who want to help to change that reality, but it’s often hard to know where to start. Would you know how to identify substance use disorder? Once you knew about the abuse, would you know how to help? So many things about substance use disorder are a mystery to us and so many things that we hear are myths. What’s the truth about substance use disorder? Join this 60 minute webinar to learn facts about substance use disorder and how to help.
The Myths and Mysteries of Substance Use Disorder
Monday, January 12, 2015
1:00 PM - 2:00 PM EST
10:00 AM - 11:00 AM PST
Preregister Now!
CLE credit:
  • CA Attorney Protective is an Approved Multiple Activity Provider in CA
  • NJ Attorney Protective is an Approved Multiple Activity Provider in NJ
  • WA - Approved for 0.25 live Ethics credit and 0.75 live General credit; MCLE Activity Number 388025
  • Other - CLE credit is being applied for in multiple additional states.
Attorney Protective
More Information And Registration

Monday, December 1, 2014

Pension Poacher Prevention Act - Washington State

From the Washington State Attorney General, March 10, 2014
Attorney General Bob Ferguson’s Pension Poacher Prevention Act today passed the Legislature with strong bipartisan support. This measure addresses the growing problem of “pension poachers” who try to scam elderly veterans. The bill now heads to the Governor’s desk to be signed into law.
 Ferguson worked with Sen. Andy Hill, R-Redmond, and Rep. Kevin Parker, R-Spokane, to secure approval for Senate Bill 6208. A coalition of veterans’ advocacy groups and organizations representing elderly Washingtonians, including AARP, supported the bill.
 “Our veterans protected us and we have a duty to protect them from scams,” said Ferguson. “The Attorney General’s Office is working hard to defend the legal rights of veterans, and this bill will improve safeguards and increase enforcement against scammers who rob veterans of their hard earned benefits.”
 “Pension poachers” represent a growing scam to separate elderly veterans from their assets. The scheme involves unscrupulous financial planners or insurance agents claiming to be veterans’ advocates. They offer “help” in submitting a claim for a specific federal U.S. Dept. of Veterans Affairs pension benefit called Aid and Attendance. The Federal Trade Commission and VA have each issued recent warnings about the scheme.
Poachers convince veterans to reposition their assets to try to qualify for the Aid and Attendance benefit, which has specific and strict qualifications. The poachers then sell veterans often unneeded financial products or services to earn a commission or fee. Problems arise because these unscrupulous brokers often fail to deliver on their promises, do not provide full information about other veterans benefits, and do not reveal the potentially adverse consequences of the financial transactions such as loss of Medicaid eligibility.
 The Attorney General’s Pension Poacher Prevention Act will address these problems by prohibiting certain unfair and deceptive practices. The law will: Make it illegal to receive compensation for assisting with the preparation of a claim, except as allowed under the VA’s rules for accreditation; Prohibit individuals from guaranteeing a specific benefit amount; Make it illegal to misuse personal and financial information gathered for the purposes of assisting an individual with a veterans claim; and Give the Attorney General’s Office enforcement authority through the state’s consumer protection laws.
“Veterans and their families have sacrificed to protect us and as lawmakers we must do what we can to protect them,” said Sen. Andy Hill, who sponsored the legislation. “Too often scammers have defrauded veterans of their retirement savings and insurance options. By improving protections we can help secure their financial future.” “Vulnerable elderly veterans are being targeted by pension poachers offering empty promises of help,” said Rep. Kevin Parker, who sponsored a version of the bill in the House of Representatives. “Veterans are a vital part of our community and we need to work to protect them and the benefits they have earned.” "Veterans are sometimes specifically targeted for the benefits they have earned because of their service,” said Alfie Alvarado-Ramos, Director of the Washington State Department of Veterans Affairs. “Veterans and families who need claims assistance can always get it for free by contacting our agency and network of accredited veteran service officers.”
 If you're worried about a possible pension poaching scams, you can:
  • Contact the AG at 1-888-551-4636 
  • File a complaint at: http://www.atg.wa.gov/FileAComplaint.aspx. 

Sunday, November 2, 2014

November 10: Webcast + San Francisco - Advocating for Veterans: The Basics on VA Benefits, Discharge Upgrades and Veteran Cultural Competency

Advocating for Veterans: The Basics on VA Benefits, Discharge Upgrades and Veteran Cultural Competency
November 10, 2014 9:00 AM Pacific
Webcast - Register Now!
Also presented in-person in San Francisco.
There are over 21 million veterans in the U.S; many of them are not aware of the benefits to which they are entitled. Medical and financial assistance are available to men and women who have served in the military, but some who can qualify are not receiving the benefits that they need. Attorneys can assist veterans with the problems that preclude them from receiving benefits, such as:
  • Lack of proper paper trails to “service-connect” their injuries
  • Ineligibility for benefits for those given less than fully honorable discharges for behaviors that were related to post traumatic stress disorder or minor disciplinary infractions.
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. A stunning 30% suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder. Many of those who should receive benefits 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. They will also cover the interactions between VA benefits and other public benefits, such as SSI and SSDI. 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 for one or more of the sessions. Speakers:
  • Becca von Behren ~ Staff Attorney, Swords to Plowshares
  • Devin Bissman ~ Equal Justice Works Fellow, Swords to Plowshares
  • Michael Blecker ~ Executive Director, Swords to Plowshares
  • Starlyn Lara ~ Women Veteran Program Manager, Community Educator and Outreach Program Manager, Swords to Plowshares
  • Nicole M. Perez ~ Staff Attorney, Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles
  • Kate Richardson ~ Staff Attorney/Pro Bono Coordinator, Swords to Plowshares
  • Co-Chairs:
    • Theresa Mesa ~ Program Developer, Office of Legal Services, The State Bar of California
    • Teresa Panepinto ~ Legal Director, Swords to Plowshares
  • Program Attorney: Christina Thompson ~ Program Attorney, Practising Law Institute
Credits: Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Virgin Islands, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.
Practising Law Institute
More Information And Registration

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Saturday, May 24, 2014

June 10: Apple Valley, MN - Serving #Veterans and Their Families #MCLE

The Dakota County Law Library and the 1st Judicial District Bar Association (FDBA)offer monthly free Continuing Legal Education sessions. You do not have to be a FDBA member to attend.
Serving Veterans and Their Families 
June 10, 2014 8-9 a.m.
Dakota County Law Library
Apple Valley, MN
Johanna Clyborne Esq.
Brekke, Clyborne & Ribich LLC (Shakopee)
Dakota County Law Library
1 CLE credit will be applied for.
More Information

Friday, May 23, 2014

June 12: Seattle - Everything Pro Bono and Public Service in and out of the WSBA #MCLE

Please join us for our next Washington State Bar Association - Legal Assistance to Military Personnel (LAMP) quarterly meeting scheduled for Immediately following the quarterly meeting we will have a one-hour CLE presentation. We are very pleased to share with you that we will have a special guest speaker: Ana Selvdige, WSBA Public Service Programs Manager, providing a presentation on “Everything Pro Bono and Public Service in and out of the WSBA.”
 This seminar will cover an overview of RPC 6.1, the various ways to comply with the rule, and the additional rules and organizations that support attorneys’ professional responsibility to assist in the provision of legal services to those who are low and moderate income.
Everything Pro Bono and Public Service in and out of the WSBA
Thursday, June 12, 2014
Meeting Starts: 11:30 A.M.
CLE Starts: Noon
Ben Bridge Corporate Office
2901 3rd Avenue, 2nd Floor
Seattle, WA 98121.
Ana Selvidge is the Public Service Programs Manager for the Washington State Bar Association. These programs include the WSBA Moderate Means Program, the Call to Duty Initiative, and new initiatives to engage more and new attorneys in providing public and pro bono services. Mrs. Selvidge began working in the legal field in 2007 at the King County Bar Association running the Legal Services for the Homeless Clinics and conducting Spanish intakes for all pro bono programs. Right before joining WSBA, she was the Volunteer Manager for the six Pro Bono Services Programs at KCBA. The registration link for Ana’s presentation.
WSBA Legal Assistance to Military Personnel Section
The presentation has been approved for one credit hour CLE credit.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

WSBA Call to Duty Program - Washington State

The WSBA Call to Duty Pledge asks you to commit in serving Washington veterans in 2014. As part of the pledge we will support you by providing resources both legal and non-legal to serve veterans, education and CLEs, and the chance to answer the various calls to duty in serving veterans.
By taking this pledge, you commit to serve veterans this year in one or more of the following ways:

  • Use my legal skills to advise a nonprofit organization that serves veterans
  • Mentor those who take pro bono cases that served a veteran
  • Teach at a CLE on veterans legal issues
  • Volunteer for one of the Call to Duty’s Days of Service or with the WA Vets Will Clinic
  • Take a low-fee veteran's case through the WSBA Moderate Means Program
  • Take a pro bono case from an organization who serves veterans
  • Become certified to take a VA benefits case.

Pledges are automatically added to our “Call to Duty Pledge” list serve. This list serve provides the following announcements and opportunities:
  • Monthly “Lunch and Learn” sessions – these webinars will highlight legal and non-legal resource helpful to serving veterans and their families 
  • Volunteer openings across the state
  • Access to free CLEs on issues veterans face
  • Pro bono case placement
  • Success stories from our members and our veterans
  • First to sign-up for the Days of Service.
Members who fulfill the pledge will receive a pin, be distinguished in NWLawyer magazine, and invited to a WSBA Call to Duty awards ceremony each January.