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Veterans clinic files rulemaking petition on access for veterans with ‘bad-paper’ discharges

More than 125,000 veterans who have served since 9/11 are denied access to basic services like health care by the Department of Veterans Affairs, according to a report by the Veterans Legal Clinic at the Legal Services Center of Harvard Law School. The report, “Underserved,” presents new findings about how the VA’s regulations exclude hundreds of thousands of veterans with “bad-paper” discharges, contrary to the text and intent of the 1944 G.I. Bill of Rights, which established the current VA eligibility standard. The clinic issued the report on behalf of two veterans advocacy organizations, Swords to Plowshares and the National Veterans Legal Services Program (NVLSP). “Congress meant for the VA to provide basic services to nearly all the men and women who served in uniform,” said Dana Montalto, an attorney and Liman Fellow in the Veterans Legal Clinic. “Yet, the VA’s regulations have operated to exclude more and more veterans from getting the care and support that they deserve.” [more]

Released 7/12/16 | Tags: Discharges

Politics and Cost Wrongly Influence VA Decisions on Agent Orange Vet Benefits

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. Bart Stichman, co-executive director of the National Veterans Legal Services Program, which has tangled with the VA in court on numerous Agent Orange-related issues, comments in the story. [more]

Released 6/17/16 | Tags: Agent Orange, Veteran's Benefits

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

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