Friday, May 30, 2008

VCS v. Nicholson and the anti-PTSD Email

After the close of evidence in VCS v. Nicholson, an email came to light concerning instructions to "refrain from giving a diagnosis of PTSD" (March 20, 2008 email from Veterans Health Administration PTSD Program Coordinator Norma Perez). The email goes on "We don't have time to do the extensive testing that should be done to determine PTSD".

Plaintiffs have requested that this email be considered in determining factual issues, such as whether VA systematically underdiagnoses PTSD and lacks resources to do its job.


Monday, May 26, 2008

IAVA Lists Charities for Troops, Families & Iraqi Civilians

Those affected by the Iraq & Afghan wars need your help! Iraq & Afghanistan Veterans of America maintains a page of links to charities serving our troops, their families and Iraqi civilians. Whatever your politics and interests, there's something here for you to act on.

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Thursday, May 22, 2008


Battlemind is both the mental orientation developed during a combat zone deployment and a program developed at Walter Reed Army Institute of Research Psychiatry and Neuroscience (WRAIR) intended to reduce its impact post-deployment.

Lawyers who have not been servicemembers may not fully appreciate some mental orientation issues that can be key to providing effective assistance to clients. It can therefore be helpful to reviewing Battlemind materials that are available to the public. These include brochures, briefings, instructor materials, and videos to aid Soldiers and their families with the stresses and strains of initial entry, deployment, and returning home.

Monday, May 19, 2008

VA Video Online

The Veterans Administration offers a frequently-updated series of short videos, called The American Veteran, covering topics such as Living With Disabilities, Segways For Veterans and VA's Team Approach To Prosthetics. See:

In addition, a weekly video program called "VA News" provides official weekly 15-minutes programs about the Department of Veterans Affairs. See

Friday, May 16, 2008

GI Bill 2008 progress

The Post-9/11 Veterans Educational Assistance Act (H.R. 5740), an attempt to give returning war veterans the same benefits of the original GI Bill, introduced in the House of Representatives by Representative Bobby Scott (D-VA), passed on May 15, 2008. Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America lists who voted for and against.
Now the action moves to the Senate, where the equivalent measure (S-22) has 57 co-sponsors.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Attorneys Assisting Citizen-Soldiers and Families (AACF)

Washington State is slated to deploy approximately 3,500 National Guard members to Iraq in August 2008.

Deployment places additional demands on military personnel and their family members. As members of the legal community, we can offer our specialized skills to assist our citizen soldiers, their family members, as well as our fellow attorneys in uniformed service.

The Guard members and their immediate families will need legal services before, during, and after deployment. Unlike active military personnel, Guard family members may not have convenient access to a military base or a military legal assistance office. Military legal staff and resources are stretched to focus on deployment readiness. Civilian attorneys can offer assistance in areas of law such as landlord-tenant issues, consumer law, family law, immigration, and other related issues.

Legal professional is Washington State are invited to join Attorneys Assisting Citizen-Soldiers and Families (AACF), a developing network of civilian volunteers throughout Washington State willing to provide limited legal services to service members and their immediate families. Staffing is needed for a network of pro bono clinics in a variety of locations. To ensure an adequate network, the development of a volunteer attorney roster is underway. In addition, please consider joining growing referral lists of volunteer attorneys willing to take pro bono cases.

To volunteer for a clinic, to join the referral list, or to learn more, please contact immediately, or Captain Alex Straub at 253-512-8262 today.

This project can offer you training and possibly CLE credit. Volunteers may also benefit from being publicly honored at Volunteer Roster and Hall of Fame. More importantly, the project is an opportunity to support our fellow citizens and military family members who are directly affected by the war. Time is of the essence; we should all do our part. Contact today.


Monday, May 12, 2008

Blue Star Mothers - Wounded Warrior Committee

The Blue Star Mothers of America, Inc. is a non-partisan, non-political organization of mothers who now have, or have had, children honorably serving in the military, supporting each other and their children.

Among its projects is a Wounded Warrior Committee that seeks to provide families with practical proactive approaches to pre-deployment family planning, preparing families for an unexpected emergency.

In support of this goal, BSM/WWC hosts a page of useful checklists, such as Pre-Deployment Information, Pre-Deployment Family Planning, Pre-Deployment Passports and more, here:

Friday, May 9, 2008

California Legal Assistance to Military Personnel

The legal community in California provides Legal Assistance to Military Personnel in a variety of ways.

For the Warrior Community

Active duty service members may wish to go first to Armed Forces Legal Assistance's nice online database to "locate active duty legal activities offering general legal services within the continental United States". Here is a list for the state of California.

The State Bar of California's Office of Legal Service, Access and Fairness Programs, Program Development Unit will refer military personnel to State Bar certified lawyer referral services and legal service providers.

The availability of pro bono assistance is not assured, but depends on the policy and attorney resources of individual entities. Contact Frank Monti, Office of Legal Services, Access & Fairness Programs, Program Development Unit
180 Howard Street, San Francisco, CA 94105-1639

Los Angeles County Bar Association Lawyer Referral and Information Service
261 South Figueroa Street
Los Angeles, CA 90012-2503
One on One Assistance to ReservistsA list of volunteers is being compiled; call LRIS # for possible referrals
Lawyer Reservist Assistance Programs
They're working on creating such a panel; call LRIS number above.

Learn more:

Chapman University School of Law has launched an innovative AMVETS Clinic, a pro-bono legal clinic for military service personnel, in partnership with Learn more here; the contact information is on the intake form.

Private Practice Attorneys

Typically, a lawyer in private practice will listen to your situation for 15 or 20 minutes, then give you an idea about how to proceed, in general terms, without charging you. If the matter is something the lawyer can help you with, but must charge for, sometimes you can work out a military-family discount (it does no harm to ask?) The Findlaw website has a city-by-city list of lawyers interested in representing active-duty military personnel, military reservists, and veterans here. The California State Bar suggests several other ways to find a lawyer and is working on a "Find A Lawyer" program, according to reports.

General-Purpose Resources

Servicemembers, veterans and their families are of course eligible to use the same resources as anyone else. A good place to start looking is which has a lot of self-help resources, plus a referral and resource search page. that lets you put in your zip code or city name, and locates the nearest resource.

    For Lawyers

    Please contact the programs mentioned above.

    If you have more information on the above, or on other efforts to provide legal help to our warrior community, please leave a comment below. The purpose is service!

    See also

    Expedited Social Security Disaility for Wounded Warriors

    From Social Security Online: Military service members can receive expedited processing of disability claims from Social Security. Benefits available through Social Security are different than those from the Department of Veterans Affairs and require a separate application.

    The expedited process is used for military service members who become disabled while on active military service on or after October 1, 2001, regardless of where the disability occurs.

    Learn More:

    Tuesday, May 6, 2008

    Closing Arguments in Veterans for Common Sense v. Nicholson

    You will recall that Veterans for Common Sense v. Nicholson is a class-action in which veterans claiming that medical care was denied or delayed are suing for injunctive relief. That is to say, they want action!

    Closing arguments have just finished; for a nice summary of the case so far, with links to court documents, see Closing Arguments in Suit on Veterans’ Mental Care by Michele Storms at

    Notice how easily it is to access the various filings and orders here:

    (And note also that at least one the filings refers to Veterans for Common Sense v. Peake, rather than Nicholson. This can be confusing.)

    Sunday, May 4, 2008

    Military Justice: Opportunity for Significant Service

    by Victor Kelley ....
    "The sheer number of young people serving in our armed forces, as well as veterans, reveals numerous opportunities for lawyers to provide significant assistance to hundreds of thousands of our citizens in a legal practice that badly needs competent civilian counsel.

    The area of military justice is virtually untapped and is one in which, with some application, civilian lawyers can practice with complete competence.

    Military criminal justice and its related administrative actions are multifaceted and include court-martial process, appellate review, nonjudicial (commander's) punishment, clemency and parole proceedings, discharge review boards, and boards for correction of military records.

    Following is a primer of the general types of some military proceedings, the qualifications for counsel's representation at those proceedings, and some resources that will guide the reader in preparation for them ..."
    Continued in Washington State Bar News:
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    New tuition benefit for dependents of deceased, disabled Oregon veterans

    From an Oregon University System (OUS) Press Release:

    "The Oregon University System wants to ensure that all eligible dependents of veterans are aware of a new tuition benefit that begins today, Spring Term 2008, and which was approved by the Oregon Legislature in the February 2008 Supplemental Session.

    The benefit provides a full tuition waiver for a bachelor’s or master’s degree at an OUS institution for a child or spouse of a member of the United States Armed Forces who either died in active duty, became 100% disabled in connection with military service, or died as a result of a disability sustained in active duty after September 11, 2001."

    ...Eligible children for the tuition waiver – including adopted or step children – must be 23 years old or younger at the time of application, be admitted to a bachelor’s or master’s degree program at an OUS campus, and must meet Oregon residency requirements. Eligible spouses must be un-remarried. Some programs may be excluded from the benefit such as certificate programs, additional undergraduate degrees, and distance education classes, among others. A waiver form, called the OUS Veterans’ Dependent Tuition Waiver Application, needs to be submitted to the Veterans Affairs Clerk at the applicable campus no later than 14 days before the applying term, with exceptions made on a case by case basis.

    Chancellor of OUS, George Pernsteiner said, “All of Oregon’s public universities are proud to be able to offer this type of benefit to the Oregon families who have done so much for the state and this country. There is no way to compensate for the sacrifices made by these soldiers, but this is at least one acknowledgment we can make to offer our respect and gratitude for their service.”

    Additional information on the tuition waiver as well as the application form can be found on the home page of the OUS website under “Featured Documents” at, and is available at any of the seven OUS institutions: Eastern Oregon University (La Grande); Oregon Institute of Technology (Klamath Falls); Oregon State University (Corvallis); Portland State University (Portland); Southern Oregon University (Ashland); University of Oregon (Eugene); and Western Oregon University (Monmouth)."

    Thursday, May 1, 2008

    Some War Veterans Find GI Bill Falls Short

    "Decades after the GI Bill transformed American society after World War II, another generation of veterans is returning home -- more than 800,000 as of last summer. What they find is quite different from the comprehensive benefits that once covered all the costs of an education, from undergraduate straight through Harvard Law.... "

    This Washington Post article has useful information on several current legislative proposals ...
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