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On Agent Orange, VA Weighs Politics and Cost Along With Science

Last year, a group of federal scientists was debating whether as many as 2,100 Air Force veterans should qualify for cash benefits for ailments they claimed stemmed from flying aircraft contaminated by Agent Orange. An outside panel of experts had already determined that the scientific evidence showed the vets were likely exposed to the toxic herbicide. The scientists within the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs agreed the airmen had a strong case. But they had a more calculated concern: If the VA doled out cash to these veterans, others might want it too, according to an internal document obtained by ProPublica and The Virginian-Pilot. NVLSP co-executive director, Bart Stichman, provides a comment in the story. [more]

Released 6/15/16 | Tags: Agent Orange, Veteran's Benefits

Here’s the Problem with the Feds Profiting from Court Filings

According to the Constitution, the law is by, of, and for the people. Congress makes laws, the president enforces them, the courts interpret them. Yet if you want to read federal court documents—to challenge those laws, or analyze them, or simply see them in the making—you must pay. By the page. Federal courts keep their documents locked within a paywalled database called PACER, an acronym for Public Access to Court Electronic Records. To access documents that are by definition public record, you must pay 10 cents per page. Because a great many people—lawyers, journalists, academics, plaintiffs and defendants—need to view these records, PACER is tremendously profitable. The database isn’t free to run, and some argue that justifies charging people to access it. But a class action lawsuit claims the profits far outweigh those costs. [more]

Released 5/16/16 | Tags: Class Actions

Opinion: Care for veterans is shameful

A new non-partisan review by the National Veterans Legal Services Program, Swords to Plowshares, and Harvard Law School’s Veterans Legal Clinic revealed the VA has wrongfully been denying services to post-9/11 veterans. [more]

Released 5/1/16 | Tags: Agent Orange

Did Contractor Drop the Ball on VA Benefits?

Retired service personal in dire need of VA benefits would not be cheered by the allegation that a contractor hired to review the cases of thousands of Vietnam veterans for exposure to Agent Orange may have denied benefits in spite of obvious need, all because the contractor was less than thorough in reviewing cases, or so it has been alleged. [more]

Released 4/27/16 | Tags: Agent Orange

Bart Stichman: VA policy unfair to some former service members

Bart Stichman, joint executive director at the National Veterans Legal Services Program, talks with Federal News Radio’s Jared Serbu about a Veterans Affairs Department policy his group says is unfairly denying health care and compensation to more than 100,000 former service members. [more]

Released 4/27/16 | Tags: Discharges

VA gets ‘F’ for claims approvals

The percent of disability claims approved by the Veterans Affairs Department for Persian Gulf War-related illnesses has declined steadily in the past five years, resulting in record lows, according to a new report. [more]

Released 4/26/16 | Tags: Veteran's Benefits

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