NVLSP Appeals Dismissal of Its Lawsuit to Compel Pentagon To Post All DRB and Correction Board Decisions Back Online For Public View
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE- April 14, 2020
WASHINGTON – On April 10, 2020, the National Veterans Legal Services Program (NVLSP) appealed the decision of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia dismissing NVLSP’s lawsuit to compel the Pentagon to return all the past decisions of the Discharge Review Boards (DRBs) and Boards for Correction of Military Records (BCMRs) (collectively, the Boards) that the Pentagon removed since April 2019 from its public reading room. NVLSP is represented in this lawsuit by on a pro bono basis by Hunton Andrews Kurth LLP. The Defendants include the Secretaries of the military departments, the Acting Secretary of Homeland Security, the Department of Defense and the Secretary of Defense
“The Court’s decision that we are appealing was a disappointment, but we are undeterred in our efforts. We are appealing this decision because the Boards have a legal obligation to ensure that its decisions are publicly available,” said National Veterans Legal Services Program Executive Director Bart Stichman. “NVLSP and other veteran advocates depend on access to these decisions to assist veterans and help them seek vital benefits for themselves and their families that have been unjustly denied.”
In response to NVLSP’s litigation, the Pentagon has slowly begun the process of posting decisions again and now the postings include an index. However, the Pentagon has thus far re-posted fewer than half of the 245,000 past DRB and BCMR decisions that the Pentagon had made publicly available prior to April 2019 and few new decisions have been posted.
On Jan. 2, 2020, NVLSP filed a lawsuit in U. S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia seeking a declaratory judgment that the military ’s removal and continued withholding of the decisions of the Boards from the Public Reading Room is unlawful. NVLSP’s lawsuit also requested that the Court issue a declaratory judgment that Defendants’ failure to properly index DRB and BCMR decisions in a usable and concise form is unlawful.
Based on the Pentagon’s agreement to commence publishing decisions on January 31, 2020, NVLSP had withdrawn its motion for preliminary injunction on January 17.
On Feb. 3, 2020, NVLSP filed a renewed motion for preliminary injunction in response to the Pentagon’s reneging on its agreement to return all the past decisions of the DRBs and BCMRs.
The National Veterans Legal Services Program (NVLSP) is an independent, nonprofit veterans service organization that has served active duty military personnel and veterans since 1981. NVLSP strives to ensure that our nation honors its commitment to its 22 million veterans and active duty personnel by ensuring they have the benefits they have earned through their service to our country. NVLSP has represented veterans in lawsuits that compelled enforcement of the law where the VA or other military services denied benefits to veterans in violation of the law. NVLSP’s success in these lawsuits has resulted in more than $5.2 billion dollars being awarded in disability, death and medical benefits to hundreds of thousands of veterans and their survivors. NVLSP offers training for attorneys and other advocates; connects veterans and active duty personnel with pro bono legal help when seeking disability benefits; publishes the nation's definitive guide on veteran benefits; and represents and litigates for veterans and their families before the VA, military discharge review agencies and federal courts. For more information, go to www.nvlsp.org.
Patty Briotta, Office 202-621-5698, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.