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     January 07, 2021
  • Payton Martinez joined National Organization of Veterans' Advocates, Inc. .
     September 21, 2023
  • Natasha Dorcent joined National Organization of Veterans' Advocates, Inc. .

     September 20, 2023
  • Cpage
     May 02, 2018
  • Stacie Lemick posted an article
    Lawmakers press VA to enforce existing protections for veterans see more

    U.S. Senate – Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chairman Jon Tester, U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-Ark.), U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), U.S. Representative Chris Pappas (D-N.H.), and U.S. Representative Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.), original sponsors of the Governing Unaccredited Representatives Defrauding (GUARD) VA Benefits Act, are calling on the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to enforce all existing protections for veterans filing initial claims for disability benefits and request additional tools they need to hold bad actors accountable for scamming veterans.

    “With the PACT Act providing the largest expansion of veterans’ benefits in decades, veterans are increasingly becoming the targets of predatory, quasi-legal claims consultants,” the lawmakers wrote in a letter to VA Secretary Denis McDonough. “The Department must exercise every enforcement tool at its disposal and request those it needs to better protect veterans from bad actors looking to take advantage of them.”

    Current law prohibits individuals and businesses from assisting a veteran in the preparation, presentation, or prosecution of a VA claim unless they are accredited through VA. Additionally, under current law, fees for assistance may only be charged after VA makes a decision on an initial claim and all fees can only be calculated based on a veteran’s retroactive benefits. However, VA and other federal agencies are limited in their ability to enforce the law because criminal penalties were eliminated from the statute nearly 20 years ago. For the past few years, VA has asked for reinstatement of criminal penalties, and the lawmakers’ GUARD VA Benefits Act would reinstate those criminal penalties for unaccredited claim representatives charging veterans unauthorized fees while helping file their VA claims.

    The lawmakers continued, “Our mission is to protect veterans and ensure they are not paying unqualified individuals to receive their benefits. As co-sponsors of the GUARD VA Benefits Act to reinstate criminal penalties, we believe VA must enforce the law and protect veterans from unaccredited individuals looking at veterans as a payday. Veterans shouldn’t have to turn to outside consultants to work through the initial claims process.”

    Continuing their efforts to protect veterans’ benefits, the lawmakers pressed VA to look into what the Department can do, besides reinstate criminal penalties, to help protect veterans and their earned benefits, and asked VA to inform Congress of its efforts to ensure veterans are not overwhelmed with filing an initial claim in the first place. They also asked VA to clarify its position on what protections are given to veterans who are choosing to pay for assistance from consultants when filing for benefits, especially on contracts where a veteran agrees to pay a product of the increase in future benefits. Specifically, they asked VA to clarify what fee structures it considers a violation of a veterans’ assignment of benefits.

    The lawmakers concluded their letter by urging VA to move swiftly to answer their questions and protect veterans filing benefits claims, writing: “Maintaining the current status quo is not an option for our veterans who risked their lives to defend our country. We cannot allow unaccredited individuals to target veterans offering them access to VA benefits for a price. We appreciate your attention to our request, and look forward to working with VA on solutions to help protect veterans and keep their hard-earned benefits where they belong.”

    The letter was also signed by additional sponsors of the GUARD VA Benefits Act, including House Veterans’ Affairs Committee Ranking Member Mark Takano (D-Calif.), Sens. Angus King (I-Maine), John Fetterman (D-Pa.), Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Peter Welch (D-VT), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), John Hickenlooper (D-Colo.), Jack Reed (D-R.I), James Risch (R-Idaho), Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Mark Kelly (D-Ariz.), Ben Ray Lujan (D-N.M.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), Mike Braun (R-Ind.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), and Reps. Ruben Gallego (D-Ariz.), Debbie Dingell (D-Mich.), Andre Carson (D-Ind.), Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.), and Lucy McBath (D-Ga.).

     Read the lawmakers’ full letter HERE.

    Read the full article here.

     September 15, 2023
  • Katy Whalen posted an article
    The Department of Veterans Affairs is conducting a “full review” of all processing systems on its... see more

    Federal News Network - The Department of Veterans Affairs is conducting a “full review” of all processing systems on its main website, after discovering technical problems that may have delayed disability claims for tens of thousands of veterans.

    VA Press Secretary Terrence Hayes said the department uncovered two technological issues with that led to delays for some veterans who tried to update their dependency status or file disability claims appeals online.

    Hayes said the VA is “taking immediate action to resolve these issues,” and will contact all veterans affected by the IT issues.

    “While these issues were limited to a small percentage of veterans, it’s unacceptable for even one veteran to be delayed due to technological issues — and we will make sure that no veteran’s benefits or appeals are negatively impacted by our errors,” Hayes said. “We deeply apologize to all impacted veterans, and we will ensure that they get the benefits and appeals decisions that they deserve.”

    The VA said about 56,000 veterans who filed an online request to add or remove a dependent spouse, child or parent to their VA disability benefits profile since 2011 did not have those claims successfully processed by

    The department said those issues mean the VA “was likely delayed” adding or removing a dependent from their veteran profiles, which could have increased or decreased their monthly benefit payments.

    “We will ensure that all underpaid veterans receive the full backdated benefits they deserve, and that no veterans are negatively impacted by our error,” VA officials said.

    VA officials said the department first discovered the issue in August 2021, but the “full scope and urgency of the problem” wasn’t understood across VA until August 2023.

    More than 574,000 veterans have updated their dependency status online since rolled out the feature in 2011.

    The VA also identified a technical issue on that prevented about 900 veterans from appealing the department’s decision on their applications for disability benefits.

    VA officials said a software bug, following a July 27 update to, meant the website would not load when some veterans tried to access the “notice of disagreement” form to initiate the appeal process.

    The VA said it fixed the software bug on Sept. 1, and is now monitoring the site to ensure no additional veterans experience the same problem.

    VA officials said the department is conducting a “full review” of all processing systems on,  which will focus on whether all aspects of the site where veterans submit applications, claims or forms are working efficiently, “and that no veterans are being delayed as a result of unacceptable technological errors.”

    The department said it will also add new features that will immediately flag any claims that aren’t processed correctly, and will automatically trigger an internal investigation whenever the VA sees an “unexpected change” in the volume of claims, appeals or other submissions.

    VA officials said the department is still identifying the exact number of veterans impacted by these technical issues and will send them mailed notices.

    The department said it’s also modernizing its claims processing infrastructure “to ensure a seamless, error-free experience for Veterans, their families, caregivers, and survivors on”

    The VA said it notified congressional leaders, state officials and veterans service organizations about the technical issues.

    The department is updating its VA hotline (1-800-827-1000) and technical support call center to assist veterans impacted by these issues. first reported in August that the VA notified 32,000 veterans that their disability claims submitted online weren’t processed correctly. also first reported the wider scope of the IT issues this Tuesday.

    The VA said the technical issues impacting disability claims are a separate issue from IT problems that came up last month, when the department received a last-minute surge of PACT Act applications before a deadline to receive backdated benefits.

    But the department said it will review all recent technical issues as part of its full review of

    “We are taking urgent steps to prevent issues like this from happening in the future – and to ensure that when issues do arise, they are identified and fixed much more quickly,” VA officials stated.

    House and Senate lawmakers have scrutinized the VA’s handling of major IT projects in multiple congressional hearings this year.  That includes the VA’s troubled rollout of a new Electronic Health Record from Oracle-Cerner.

    The VA announced in April that it’s putting all future deployments of the Oracle-Cerner EHR on hold, until it addresses problems at sites already using the system, as part of a “larger program reset.”

    House VA Committee Chairman Mike Bost (R-Ill.)  wrote in a letter to VA Secretary Denis McDonough that the disability claims IT issue “are just the latest in a string of electronic filing issues that continue to plague your department.”

    Bost is asking the VA to brief the committee on the root causes of the IT issues.

    “I am incredibly frustrated with this pattern of technical problems in and associated systems. Particularly because tens of thousands of veterans and their families have been directly affected by these mishaps, and millions of veterans, their families, their caregivers, their dependents, and their survivors rely on the VA website, which is supposed to be a pillar of a more modern, user-friendly VA,” Bost wrote.

    Read the full article here

     September 07, 2023
  • Rhoda LeLevier joined National Organization of Veterans' Advocates, Inc. .

     September 14, 2023
  • Cpage
     May 02, 2018
  • Antony Kolenc joined National Organization of Veterans' Advocates, Inc. .

    A retired Air Force JAG and current law professor at Ave Maria School of Law, Tony directs the Veterans and Servicemembers Law Clinic (VLSC), which assists veterans and military members in First Amendment cases, civil legal aid cases, military discharge upgrades, and veterans benefits...

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    A retired Air Force JAG and current law professor at Ave Maria School of Law, Tony directs the Veterans and Servicemembers Law Clinic (VLSC), which assists veterans and military members in First Amendment cases, civil legal aid cases, military discharge upgrades, and veterans benefits claims.

     September 13, 2023
  • David Bulluck joined National Organization of Veterans' Advocates, Inc. .
     September 11, 2023
  • Steve Ryan joined National Organization of Veterans' Advocates, Inc. .
     September 08, 2023
  • Melissa Laurent joined National Organization of Veterans' Advocates, Inc. .
     September 08, 2023
  • Glenn Wells joined National Organization of Veterans' Advocates, Inc. .

    I was in the United States Marine Crops from 1995-2016.  I was a district attorney for a couple years and did a year at BVA as a decision writing attorney. Now I am in private practice helping as many Veterans as I...

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    I was in the United States Marine Crops from 1995-2016.  I was a district attorney for a couple years and did a year at BVA as a decision writing attorney. Now I am in private practice helping as many Veterans as I possibly can. 

     September 07, 2023
  • Katy Whalen posted an article
    Registration Is Now Open For Our Speakers' Luncheon On Fri, 10/20 & Topgolf on Thurs 10/19! see more

    *PLEASE NOTE: You must be registered for the 2023 Fall Conference in order to register for the below events*

    Register To Attend Our Speakers' Luncheon

    Thank you for registering for our Fall Conference in Fort Worth! Please consider attending our speakers' luncheon for the attendees on Friday, October 20, at 11:30am. NOVA will provide ten tables with nine seats available for attendees, where you can sit with your colleagues, discuss issues, and ask questions regarding the speaker’s topic. Our speakers will lead a dialogue or Q&A session allowing everyone at your table to interact. Table topics will include Recent Court Cases, Effective Client Communication, Effective Dates in PACT Act Claims and Appeals, Understanding Claims Processing from a Former VA Employee's Perspective, and more!

    The cost of the luncheon is $39 per person.  We will be serving a buffet-style lunch with soup, salad, build-your-own sandwich options, and dessert.  The multi-registration conference discount does not apply to the luncheon. We ask you to indicate one first choice and one second choice for your table. Please remember reservations will be made on a first-come, first-served basis and seating is limited. Your table will be confirmed once your registration has been processed and your ticket is non-refundable.

    This luncheon requires a separate registration. Register early in case we sell out and are unable to accept on-site registrations for this luncheon. 

    Please register online

    Register For An Evening Of Fun At Topgolf Fort Worth With Fellow Colleagues!

    The social committee is pleased to host an hosting an outing at Topgolf Fort Worth on Thursday, October 19, from 7-9pm.  This event is after the NOVA reception.

    Topgolf DFW - Fort Worth is a premier entertainment destination. Enjoy the climate-controlled hitting bays for year-round comfort with HDTVs in every bay and throughout the sports bar and restaurant. Using Topgolf's complimentary clubs or your own, take aim at the giant outfield targets and the high-tech balls will score themselves.

    Price: $63 per person. The tickets are non-refundable. 

    Registration for this event includes 2 hours of play and a Fajita Banquet served with soda, water, and tea.  Attendees will have to pay for their own alcoholic beverages.  Please note, transportation will not be provided for this event.  Attendees will be responsible for securing their own transportation.  Topgolf is a little over a mile away.

    Space is limited and is first-come, first-served.  Please register by Friday, September 15, so the committee has an accurate count and can reserve enough bays for attendees!  

    Please register online HERE!

    Questions: Please email Stacie Lemick at the NOVA office.


     September 05, 2023
  • Jakob Michaelis joined National Organization of Veterans' Advocates, Inc. .
     September 07, 2023
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