2018 Veterans Clinic Symposium

The Veterans Appeals Improvement and Modernization Act of 2017: Finding Footing

Hosted by the University of Missouri School of Law Veterans Clinic

November 9, 2018

 

Overview

In 2017, Congress passed the Veterans Appeals Improvement and Modernization Act of 2017, which represented one of the most significant statutory changes to affect the Department of Veterans Affairs in decades. The new law will modernize the current claims and appeals processes. The department anticipates the new system will streamline resolutions, with added safeguards to ensure protections for veterans.

For many veterans, securing benefits from the VA proves challenging and time-consuming. According to recent estimates from the VA, veterans currently wait an average of three years for resolution of an appealed claim. Those who received a decision from the Board of Veterans Appeals waited an average of seven years from the date they filed their Notice of Disagreement (NOD), the first step in the appeals process, until the decision.

The current life cycle of a veteran’s benefits claim is multi-faceted. Veterans can appeal any aspect of a claim decision and are given one year to file an NOD. Once the Regional Office conducts a review, it issues a Statement of the Case (SOC). If a veteran is dissatisfied with the SOC, he or she may file a formal appeal, also known as a Substantive Appeal. If new evidence is added, the Regional Office prepares a Supplemental Statement of the Case (SSOC) and the appeal continues. Often, the board remands the claim to the Regional Office and the cycle restarts. Advocates call this the “hamster wheel” of VA adjudication.

View the Lifecycle of a VA Appeal

The department recognizes the current appeals process is “too complex, contains many unnecessary steps, is confusing to navigate and makes it very challenging to explain in simple terms.” Under the new law, there will be three review options: Higher Level Review, Supplemental Claim Lane and an Appeal Lane to the Board of Veterans Appeals. The new law will take effect in February 2019.

During a long appeals process, life does not stop for our nation’s veterans. The University of Missouri School of Law’s Veterans Clinic has witnessed its own clients suffer financially – or even die – prior to resolution of their appeals. Time is not the only hindrance. The department has also seen a steady increase in the volume of claims in the system and this growth, according to the VA, is “beyond our capacity to timely resolve appeals under current law.” More than one million claims are adjudicated through the VA every year.

The Fifth Annual Veterans Clinic Symposium will address key factors in the decision-making process under the new law. As we approach the 100th anniversary of Armistice Day, the clinic’s goal is to provide veterans, lawyers, medical practitioners and others who serve veterans with the navigational tools necessary to quickly deliver benefits to our nation’s most deserving population. Analysis of the new law, coupled with perspectives from veterans, doctors, attorneys and decision makers will be provided.

The symposium will provide an open and honest discussion addressing the complex and challenging VA benefits system. Registration is requested but not required.

Location

All events will be held in Hulston Hall, Room 7, on the University of Missouri campus.

Cost and Registration

The symposium is free and open to the public. Registration is requested, but not required.

Register Online

Continuing Legal Education Credit

This symposium has been approved for a total of 7.8 hours of CLE credit in Missouri.

CLE Certificate

Questions?

If you have questions, please contact the Mizzou Law Veterans Clinic at 573-882-7630 or email mulawvetclinic@missouri.edu.

Anticipated Symposium Program

November 9, 2018
8:15 – 8:30 a.m. Welcome

Angela Drake
Director
Veterans Clinic

8:30 – 9:30 am  The Current Path for Veterans

 

Doyle Shields
Former Clinic Client
U.S. Marine Corps Veteran

Download Presentation (PDF)

Daniel C. Hartman, ’14
Chief of Staff
Missouri Attorney General’s Office

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Online Materials

9:30 – 10:30 am Trail Angels: Practice Pointers from Experienced Attorneys

 

Zachary Stolz
Partner
Chisholm, Chisholm and Kirkpatrick

Amy Kretkowski
Founder
Veterans Law Office of Amy B. Kretkowski

Download Presentation (PDF)

Download Materials (PDF)
Online Materials
Online Materials
Online Materials

10:30- 10:45 am Break
10:45-11:45 am Finding Your Bearings: Appeals Reform

Donnie R. Hachey
Veterans Law Judge
Board of Veterans’ Appeals

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Download Materials (PDF)
Online Materials
Online Materials

11:45 am -12:15 pm Refuel: Networking Lunch

Lunch will be provided.

12:15 – 1:05 pm Keynote Presentation

Guideposts from the Court: Avoiding Detours and Anticipating Road Blocks

The Honorable Margaret Bartley
United States Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims

Online Materials

1:05 – 1:45 pm  Traversing the Terrain: Mile Markers for Effective Representation Before a DRO

Amelia Tapp
Decision Review Officer
St. Louis VA Regional Office

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1:45 – 2:00 pm Break
2:00 – 2:45 pm Paving Pathways to More Meaningful C&P Exams

Dr. Dennis Velez
Neurosurgeon
Veterans Evaluation Services

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Online Materials

2:45 – 3:30 pm Bumps in the Road: Military Service and the Psychological Effects on Our Veterans

Dr. Jared E. Ebert
Assistant Professor, Emergency Medicine
University of Missouri
Captain
Missouri Army National Guard Medical Corps

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Download Materials (PDF)
Online Materials
Online Materials
Online Materials
Online Materials

3:30-3:45 pm Break
3:45 – 4:15 pm

Blazing a Trail into the Future: VSOs’ Perspectives

David Myers
National Appellate Representative
National Association of County Veterans Service Officers at the Board of Veterans Appeals
Director of Program Development
Veterans Consortium Pro Bono Program

Ed Zackery
Immediate Past President
The National Association of County Veteran Service Officers

Download Presentation (PDF)

4:15 – 4:30 p.m

Closing

Angela Drake
Director
Veterans Clinic

7.8 hours total CLE available.

Speaker Bios

Margaret Bartley

Margaret Bartley

The Honorable Margaret Bartley
United States Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims

Judge Margaret Bartley was nominated by President Barack Obama and subsequently appointed a judge of the United States Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims (USCAVC) in June 2012. For over 17 years prior to her appointment, Judge Bartley served as a veterans advocate, working as staff attorney and then senior staff attorney for National Veterans Legal Services Program (NVLSP), a veterans service organization. From 2005 until her appointment to the bench, Judge Bartley also served as Director of Outreach and Education for the Veterans Consortium Pro Bono Program. Judge Bartley earned a Bachelor of Arts degree, cum laude, from Pennsylvania State University in 1981 and a juris doctor degree, cum laude, from the American University Washington College of Law in 1993.


Jared Ebert

Jared Ebert

Assistant Professor, Emergency Medicine
University of Missouri

Captain
Missouri Army National Guard Medical Corps

Dr. Jared Ebert is an Emergency Medicine physician working at the University Hospital in Columbia, Missouri.  Born and raised in Southern Missouri, Jared attended college at College of the Ozarks in Branson, Missouri.  Jared joined the Army National Guard as a combat medic after graduating high school.  At the end of his sophomore year of college, he was deployed to Afghanistan where he spent a year living amongst the locals and working with Provincial Reconstruction Team whose goal was to build infrastructure in the Panjshir Provence. After returning home, Jared married and completed college in his wife’s hometown of Nashville, TN.  He went to medical school and completed an Emergency Medicine residency at the University of Missouri in Columbia where he now works.  Jared has continued service with the National Guard and plans to continue until he reaches twenty years of service.


Donnie R. Hachey

Donnie R. Hachey

Veterans Law Judge
Board of Veterans’ Appeals

Donnie R. Hachey currently serves as a Veterans Law Judge with the Board of Veterans’ Appeals (Board).  For nine years, Mr. Hachey also served as the Board’s Chief Counsel for Operations.  As Chief Counsel, Mr. Hachey served as a key member of the Board’s senior executive team responsible for managing Board operations, formulating the Board’s budget and performance metrics, developing legislative and regulatory initiatives, managing and developing policy directives, and serving as the chief legal and policy advisor to the Board Chairman, while supervising a staff of approximately 100 attorneys, paralegals, and administrative professionals.  In his role as Chief Counsel, Mr. Hachey was a member of the VA team that negotiated the Veterans Appeals Improvement and Modernization Act of 2017 and served as the bill’s primary author.  Prior to his selection as Chief Counsel for Operations, Mr. Hachey served as an Associate Counsel at the Board where he researched and drafted appellate decisions for Veterans Law Judges.  He also served as Special Counsel where he authored and reviewed key regulatory initiatives, while also serving on various intra-Departmental workgroups tasked with addressing critical legal and policy concerns facing the Veterans benefits system.

Before joining VA, Mr. Hachey worked in private practice where he advised individual and corporate clients on matters involving taxation, wealth management, and business transactions.  Mr. Hachey received his J.D. degree, magna cum laude, from Albany Law School, where he was a member of the Albany Law Review.

Mr. Hachey currently lives in Alexandria, Virginia with his wife Terri and daughter Elizabeth.


Daniel Hartman

Daniel Hartman

Chief of Staff
Missouri Attorney General

Daniel Hartman serves as Chief of Staff to the Missouri Attorney General. A native Missourian, Daniel graduated from Texas A&M-Corpus Christi where he received a commission as an infantry officer in the U.S. Army. Afterward, Daniel was assigned to the First Infantry Division and led a rifle platoon in combat during the Surge of Baghdad. On a subsequent tour in Iraq, Daniel developed reconstruction programs to strengthen Iraqi business and governance while attached to the US Department of State. After leaving the Army, he earned a law degree at the University of Missouri and later managed the successful 2016 campaign of Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley.


Amy Kretkowski

Amy Kretkowski

Founder
Veterans Law Office of Amy B. Kretkowski

Amy Kretkowski is a veterans law attorney in private practice in Iowa City, IA, and an Adjunct Professor of Veterans Benefits Law at the University of Iowa College of Law. She is also a mentoring attorney with the Veterans Consortium Pro Bono Program; Chair of the Rules Advisory Committee of the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims; Co-Chair of the Veterans Work Group of Iowa’s Access to Justice Commission; a member of the Military Affairs Committee of the Iowa State Bar Association; and a member of the Education/Outreach and Legislative Committees of the National Organization of Veterans’ Advocates. She has taught CLE programs for Iowa Legal Aid and conducted annual trainings for the National Association of County Veterans Service Officers, as well as various veterans service groups in Iowa and around the country. She has also presented at prior NOVA conferences and the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims’ 2016 Judicial Conference.

She began her career in veterans’ law in 2009, when she served as a judicial law clerk to the Honorable Mary J. Schoelen on the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims. She received her J.D., with distinction, from the University of Iowa College of Law, and her B.F.A. from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts. Before moving to Iowa to study law, she spent 18 years as an independent writer/producer in the television industry in New York and Los Angeles. She currently lives in a 105-year-old house in Iowa City with her husband Paul and a neurotic husky.


David H. Myers

David H. Myers

National Appellate Representative
National Association of County Veterans Service Officers at the Board of Veterans Appeals
Director of Program Development
Veterans Consortium Pro Bono Program

CDR David H. Myers, JAGC, USN, (Ret.) is currently serving as the National Appellate Representative for the National Association of County Veterans Service Officers at the Board of Veterans Appeals.  As a National Service Officer working with VSOs around the country, he focuses on duties that includes management of NACVSO cases pending at the Board and representation of veterans before Board hearings.

Dave is also serving as Director, Program Development with the Veterans Consortium Pro Bono Program.  After 28 years enlisted and commissioned service, including 24 years as a Navy judge advocate, Mr. Myers joined the Consortium as Deputy Director for Case Evaluation in 2000.  He subsequently served as Director of the Case Evaluation and Placement Component and was Acting Executive Director from October 2014 through June 2015.

During his Navy career, CDR Myers served in a wide range of legal billets, including Senior Trial Counsel, NLSO, Naples, Italy, during the first Gulf War; and Military Judge, Navy-Marine Corps Trial Judiciary.  His enlisted service included a deployment to Southeast Asia on the USS Ranger (CVA-61) in 1974.  He earned four Meritorious Service Medals.

A native of Centralia, Illinois, Dave is a 1972 graduate of Mac Murray College, Jacksonville, Illinois and a 1978 graduate of Valparaiso University School of Law, Valparaiso, Indiana.  In 1987 he earned a Master of Laws degree from The Army’s Judge Advocate General’s School.

Mr. Myers is married to Debra Luzietti-Myers, who is currently a Deputy General Counsel for the Paralyzed Veterans of America.  Daughter Kaitlyn Myers-Brooks recently earned a Master’s Degree in counseling and therapy from Duquesne University and works as career and crisis counselor for the Jewish Family Community Services of Pittsburgh where her duties include providing assistance to veterans.


Zachary Stolz

Zachary Stolz

Partner
Chisholm, Chisholm and Kirkpatrick

Zachary Stolz is a Partner at Chisholm Chisholm & Kilpatrick LTD. He joined CCK in 2007 and since that time, his law practice has focused on representing disabled veterans before the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims. Zach received his B.A. from Rockhurst University in 2002 and received his J.D. from the University of Kansas School of Law in 2005.  Prior to joining CCK, Zach worked in the Judicial Appeals office of the Disabled American Veterans (DAV) from 2005 until 2007.  He primarily handles appeals and arguments before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims, and the Board of Veterans’ Appeals (BVA).  He has participated in over three thousand veterans’ cases to date.

Zach is a past President of the Court of Veterans Appeals for Veterans Claims Bar Association and formerly served on the Board of Governors.  He is a member of the Board of Directors for the National Organization for Veterans Advocates (NOVA) and is a former Vice-Chair of the Federal Circuit Bar Association’s Veterans Appeals Committee.  Zach also serves as a court-appointed member of the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims Judicial Advisory Committee.

Zach was involved in establishing a partnership between DAV, CCK, and the Harvard Law School to provide representation to veterans at the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims.  Through this collaboration, Harvard law students represent veterans, free of charge, before the Court. The partnership’s efforts have led to successful outcomes in four appellate cases to date including a precedential decision in Ausmer v. Shinseki.  That case was argued by Harvard law students in a special session with the Court.  It was hosted by Harvard and held at the law school campus.  The case established important rights for veterans deployed overseas during times of war.

Zach is a nationally recognized expert in the area of veterans law and has lectured extensively throughout the country at bar association events and seminars.  He has also lectured at the University of Virginia Law School, the George Washington University Law School, and the Harvard Law School. Zach has argued many precedential veterans court cases both in Washington, D.C. and at various law schools.


Amelia Tapp

Amelia Tapp

Decision Review Officer
St. Louis VA Regional Office

Amelia Tapp began her dedication to veterans during her childhood as a volunteer with the non-profit Disabled American Veterans (DAV), following a strong family tradition of service.  Her lifetime of volunteerism led to a job with DAV, which, after one year, led to a career with the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).  Ms. Tapp has worked her way through the ranks of the Chicago and St. Louis VA regional offices as a public contact representative, veterans service representative, rating veterans service representative and decision review officer.  She is a subject matter expert in VA compensation and pension, and has specialized in cases involving military sexual trauma, post-traumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injury, neurological disabilities, seriously injured/very seriously injured veterans and former prisoners of war.  When not chasing after her five-year-old nephew at her home in Illinois, Ms. Tapp can be found on her family’s farm outside of Hermann, Mo.


Dennis A. Velez

Dennis A. Velez

Neurosurgeon
Veterans Evaluation Services

Dennis A. Velez, MD is a fellowship trained neurosurgeon pursuing additional education and training in Health Administration and Healthcare Ethics at the University of Missouri-Columbia. Having grown up in San Juan, Puerto Rico, he now lives with his wife and children in Columbia, MO. His educational background includes a BS in Mathematics from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, MD degree from Universidad Central del Caribe School of Medicine, neurosurgery residency at University of Missouri-Columbia and fellowships from University of Washington/Seattle Neuroscience Institute and Vanderbilt University in Nashville. Dennis also enjoys swimming, road cycling and traveling as well as surfing in Isabela, PR and Cardiff by the Sea in CA.


Edward Zackery

Edward Zackery

Immediate Past President
The National Association of County Veteran Service Officers

First Sergeant Edward Zackery (U.S Army, Retired) enlisted in the United States Army as a Fire Support Specialist in March of 1987.

Mr. Zackery’s various duty positions have included, Section Chief and Platoon Sergeant, in which he completed two tours in the Federal Republic of Germany and deployed in support of Operations Joint Endeavor and Joint Guard to the Former Republic of Yugoslavia. He

was a Senior Airborne Fire Support Trainer at the National Training Center in Fort Irwin, CA. He also served in the 10th Mountain Division at Fort Drum, NY as the First Sergeant for the 10th Target Acquisition Detachment and deployed to Iraq in support of Joint Special Operations Command during the initial phase of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Three months after returning home from Iraq Mr. Zackery again deployed with the 10th Mountain Division, this time to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, where he was awarded the Bronze Star while serving as the First Sergeant for Alpha Battery, 3rd Battalion, 6th Field Artillery. After returning home, Mr. Zackery was selected to be the Senior Military Science Instructor at Saint Bonaventure University’s Reserve Officers’ Training Corps.

Mr. Zackery retired from the United States Army in September of 2007 and holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Resource Management. In July of 2008, he accepted a position as Director of the Medina County Veterans Service Office. He has served as the President of the Ohio State Association County Veterans Service Officers (OSACVSO) for two years where the Ohio Department of Veterans Service recognized him for his work on the Strategic Planning Initiative for improving the delivery of Veterans Benefits for Ohio’s more than nine-hundred thousand veterans. Mr. Zackery was elected President of the National Association of County Veterans Service Officers (NACVSO) in May of 2016 at the Myrtle Beach, SC Training Conference and served in that position until June 2018. Currently he serves on the Executive Board of Directors for the National Association of County Veterans Service Officers (NACVSO) as the Immediate Past President. Mr. Zackery also serves on the Ohio Department of Veterans Services (ODVS) Advisory Committee and the National Association of Counties (NACo) Board of Directors and Vice Chair for the Veterans and Military Service Committee at NACo.

Mr. Zackery currently resides in Medina, Ohio with his wife and their two children.

First Sergeant Zackery’s military awards and decorations include the Legion of Merit, Bronze Star, Meritorious Service Medal w/2-OLC, Army Commendation Medal (w/3-OLC), Army Achievement Medal (w/9-OLC), Army Good Conduct Medal (6th AWD), National Defense Service Medal (2nd AWD), Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal, Iraqi Campaign Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Armed Forces Service Medal, NCO Professional Development Ribbon (w/num-3), Army Service Ribbon, Overseas Service Ribbon (w/num-3), NATO Medal, The Joint Meritorious Unit Award, The Army Meritorious Unit Commendation, The Army Superior Unit Award (w/OLC), Aircraft Crewmember Badge, Air Assault Badge, and Parachutist Badge.

About

Since its inception in 2014, the University of Missouri School of Law Veterans Clinic has directly assisted 70 veteran clients and referred many other veterans to other accredited attorneys or the Missouri Veterans Commission.

Each semester students, under the supervision of Angela Drake and Brent Filbert, review veterans’ military records and disability files, track down witness statements and work with doctors to secure medical opinions.

The clinic hosts an annual symposium focused on the issues facing today’s veterans, including traumatic brain injury, military sexual trauma and post traumatic stress disorder.

Platinum Ribbon Sponsors

 

 

 


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Parking

Please plan ahead for parking during the symposium. Information on visitor parking can be found on the MU website: https://parking.missouri.edu/parking/visitor/parking