NOVA History

The National Organization of Veterans Advocates, Inc. (NOVA) was incorporated in the District of Columbia as a not-for-profit educational membership organization in 1993.

NOVA was created by its founders - Kenneth Carpenter, Hugh Cox, and Keith Synder - to provide support and organization for the private bar representing veterans in their disability claims against VA. Their vision for NOVA was set forth in its early bylaws:

  • To develop through research, discussion, and the exchange of information a better understanding of federal veterans benefits law and procedure;
  • To develop and encourage high standards of service and representation for all persons seeking benefits through the federal veterans benefits system and in particular those seeking judicial review of denials of veterans benefits;
  • To conduct and cooperate in the conduct of courses of study for the benefit of its members and others desiring to represent persons seeking benefits through the federal veterans benefits system;
  • To provide opportunity for the exchange of experience and opinions through discussion, study, and publications; and
  • To do all and everything related to the above and in general to have all the powers conferred upon a corporation by the District of Columbia.

Over the next decade, NOVA made this vision a reality by holding training workshops for new practitioners, providing a forum for networking via its online bulletin board, presenting expert testimony before Congress, and authoring amicus briefs to the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims (CAVC), Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC), and Supreme Court.

In 2000, the CAVC recognized NOVA’s work on behalf of veterans with the Hart T. Mankin Distinguished Service Award.

In December 2006, as the result of NOVA's advocacy, Congress repealed the law that prohibited attorneys from charging a fee for representing veterans in the VA claims process. The Veterans Benefits, Health Care, and Information Technology Act of 2006 (Section 101 of Public Law 109-461) took effect on June 20, 2007. The new law amended Chapter 59 of Title 38, USC, governing the recognition of individuals for the preparation, presentation, and prosecution of claims for benefits before VA. The rule change allowed attorneys to represent veterans much earlier in the claims process, and permitted them to charge reasonable fees for the representation.

In April 2013, NOVA marked its 20th Anniversary during its conference in Washington, D.C.  To celebrate this milestone, NOVA published a book describing the organization's history from 1993 to 2013.  On July 28, 2013, A History of NOVA 1993-2013 was officially registered with the United States Copyright Office of the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C.  To read the full text of A History of NOVA, click HERE.

Today, NOVA brings unmatched expertise to the field of veterans advocacy and takes pride in its many significant accomplishments.