Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Agent Orange Ship List Updated.

The Agent Orange Ship List has been recently updated.
Rather than copy that information here, let me recommend you go to the list because it will no doubt be updated again.
Also, if you think a ship not on the list should be, submit your information via the Ship Not On The List? page.

Friday, July 5, 2013

July 17/Web: VA Benefits Webinar: Fully Developed Claims

It is vital that our nation’s military heroes know about the quickest way to get their disability compensation and pension claims processed. Fully Developed Claims are processed more quickly by VA than traditional claims, which benefit Veterans and help reduce the claims backlog.The webinar will give attendees a basic understanding of how to apply for the program and resources they can use to refer Veterans to VA.
Fully Developed Claims 
The webinar will be offered twice on Wednesday, July 17th: 9:30-11:30 AM EDT and again at 1:30-3:30 PM EDT.
Online at
Intended Audience:
Professionals who work with Veterans
The ninety minute presentation will be followed by a thirty minute question and answer session for participants. Contact if you have other questions.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

New Mexico Legal Assistance to Military Personnel (LAMP)

The legal community in New Mexico 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 online database to "locate active duty legal activities offering general legal services within the continental United States"; simply enter the state you're in or your ZIP code and hit "search".
"In a time of national emergency our men and women in uniform and their families shouldn't have to worry about their legal rights at home. To protect these rights, New Mexico lawyers are ready to help. Fee basis will be determined on a case-by-case basis, depending on the condition of Soldier’s deployment, the legal issue, and the Soldier’s household income. Dependant on qualification, referrals may be made for pro bono consultations or for pro bono, reduced fee or full fee assistance. For assistance call (505) 797-6067 or 1-800-87-N-M-BAR (1-800-876-6227)  or email or fill out the Intake Form and email it."

General-Purpose Resources

Servicemembers, veterans and their families are of course eligible to use the same resources as anyone else; while these resources are not specifically designed for our warrior community, they can be helpful!

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, especially if you are easy to work with.

For Lawyers

The New Mexico State Bar has an active Legal Assistance to Military Personnel (LAMP) referral program,
It is likely that there are other New Mexico programs, sponsored by local bar associations, law schools, and others. Anyone with more information on these or other programs are invited to contact me; the most convenient way is to add in a comment below.
Also, if you serve the military and veterans community, you may wish to ensure you're properly listed on the appropriate Avvo and Findlaw web resources. It's free advertising for you and helpful to your clientele!

See also

Monday, July 1, 2013

Apply Online For Veterans Benefits Now via #EBENEFITS

According to a VA Press Release (June 18, 2013), you can apply now for veterans benefits even if you have not collected all your records. Although you will need to get complete documentation as soon as possible for your claim to be processed, if you START your application NOW, then your benefits will start accumulating as of the day you started.
If you're a Veteran who is NOT registered with the VA Health Care System, STOP! Don't bother reading the rest of this post - GO TO EBENEFITS AND REGISTER NOW!
Otherwise ... In the past, you needed to complete an application and mail it it; then benefits started accumulating. This meant that the VA got a lot of paper, instead of the more easily processed electronic applications; it also meant that veterans missed out on days, weeks or even months of benefits because it takes time to gather papers.
That has now changed. Even if all that you know about your claim is your own name and the date you entered service (?how likely is it that you've forgotten that?) you should start the online application today so your benefits start accruing. You can go to a VSO office to fill out the rest of your claim - if they can't help you, then find another VSO that's a little smarter.
Here's the full press release:
"A new online application from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) enables disability compensation claims to be processed faster in a more end-to-end electronic environment, and VA is urging Veterans and their Veterans Service Organization  (VSO) representatives to make full use of its capabilities to receive speedier decisions and reduce the backlog of claims.

The availability of the joint VA-Department of Defense Web portal eBenefits, which now integrates with the new internal Veterans Benefits Management System (VBMS) electronic claims processing system, marks a major milestone in VA’s transformation from paper claims records to a fully digital operating environment, one of the keys to VA’s goal to eliminate the disability claims backlog by the end of 2015. VBMS has now been fielded at all 56 Regional Offices across the country, ahead of schedule.  VA will continue to upgrade and improve VBMS based on user feedback, and add features and tools that make it faster and easier to process claims. Instead of filling out and mailing paper forms to VA, Veterans can now use eBenefits to enter claim information online using a step-by-step, interview-style application, with pre-populated data fields and drop-down menus similar to popular tax preparation software.

“There are so many advantages to making this move from paper to digital – for both Veterans and VA” said Under Secretary for Benefits Allison A. Hickey. “Veterans can now file their claims online through eBenefits like they might do their taxes online.”

By filing electronically, any compensation benefits that are awarded will be effective back to the date the Veteran started entering their claim information in eBenefits.  From that initial claim establishment date, each Veteran has up to a year to gather all necessary records and hit “submit” to preserve their original date of claim.

eBenefits allows Veterans to upload digital images of records and evidence to support their claims, bypassing the need to physically mail in personal records and wait for confirmation of receipt. VA is advising Veterans to gather and submit all relevant medical records and file a Fully Developed Claim (FDC) in eBenefits, which entails entering all available evidence at the time the claim is submitted and verifying to VA that they have no more evidence to submit. Veterans filing an FDC will receive priority processing over the traditional claims process.   VA can typically process FDCs in half the time it takes for a traditionally filed claim, and there is no risk to Veterans in filing an FDC.  If VA finds that there is a piece of relevant evidence that was not submitted by the Veteran, but is needed for a rating decision (like private medical records), claims processors will work to obtain that evidence on the Veteran’s behalf and process the claim in the traditional way.

Once logged into eBenefits, Veterans can also choose to have an accredited VSO representative assist with their claim submission by filing an electronic power of attorney form.  Using a companion portal, the chosen VSO representative, with proper authorization, will be able to see the contents of a Veteran’s claim, track its status, and add additional information when needed. A Veteran and his representative can even work a claim simultaneously while both are logged into the system, enabling VSOs to assist more Veterans in their homes or even remotely.

VA will still accept claims in paper form, though processing may take longer than for an electronically-submitted claim.  As of this summer, VA scans all new paper claims and uploads them into VBMS so they too can be processed electronically, though without many of the benefits provided when Veterans initiate the process in eBenefits such as guided questions that help ensure complete and accurate information and the immediate receipt of information without having to wait for the scanning and processing of paper documents. In addition to filing claims online, registered eBenefits users can track their claim status and access information on a variety of other benefits, like pension, education, health care, home loan eligibility, and vocational rehabilitation and employment programs.

A free Premium eBenefits account is required to file claims electronically. The quickest and most convenient method of establishing a free premium eBenefits account is to complete the remote verification process through the eBenefits home page, or use DoD’s common access card (CAC) to register for and/or upgrade to a free premium account.  Veterans can also establish an account by telephone at 1-800-827-1000, option 7, if they are in receipt of VA benefits via direct deposit, or by visiting a VA regional office or TRICARE Service Center (if they are a military retiree). For the location of the nearest VA regional office, visit and search the VA regional benefits office locator.

While compensation claims are pending, eligible Veterans are able to receive healthcare and other benefits from VA.  Veterans who have served in recent conflicts are eligible for 5 years of free healthcare from VA. Currently, over 55% of returning Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans are using VA healthcare, a rate of utilization greater than previous generations of Veterans.

This is the latest effort in support of the Secretary’s plan to eliminate the backlog. On May 15, VA announced that it is mandating overtime for claims processors in its 56 regional benefits offices through the end of fiscal year 2013 to help eliminate the backlog, with continued emphasis on high-priority claims for homeless Veterans, those claiming financial hardship, the terminally ill, former Prisoners of War, Medal of Honor recipients, and Veterans filing Fully Developed Claims.

In April, VA announced an initiative to expedite compensation claims decisions for Veterans who have waited one year or longer.   On April 19, VA began prioritizing claims decisions for Veterans who have been waiting the longest by providing decisions based on evidence currently in hand that allow eligible Veterans to begin collecting compensation benefits quickly while waiting for their final eligibility decision.

For more information about VA benefits, go to  For more information on VA’s Transformation, go to"