2019 Veterans Clinic Symposium

2019 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, 2019


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 for 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 a 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 the 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.


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


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
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
Download Presentation (PDF)
Online Materials

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

Zachary Stolz
Chisholm, Chisholm and Kirkpatrick
Amy Kretkowski
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
Download Presentation (PDF)
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
Download Presentation (PDF)
1:45 – 2:00 pm Break
2:00 – 2:45 pm Paving Pathways to More Meaningful C&P Exams
Dr. Dennis Velez
Veterans Evaluation Services
Download Presentation (PDF)

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
Missouri Army National Guard Medical Corps
Download Presentation (PDF)
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
Angela Drake
Veterans Clinic

7.8 hours of total CLE available.

Speaker Bios

Lt. Gen. Richard C. Harding

Judge Advocate General
U.S. Air Force

Lieutenant General (3 stars) Richard C.Harding served for more than 34 years in the United States Air Force until retiring in 2014. He was awarded a direct commission in the Air Force as a judge advocate (military lawyer) following his graduation from the University of Arkansas Fulbright School of Political Science in 1975 and graduation from the University of Arkansas Law School in 1979.
During his Air Force service, General Harding served as a mission controller for a fighter aircraft squadron, the chief of acquisition for a combatant command, the commander of a Department of Air Force Agency, the lead legal counsel for two wing commanders, the senior legal counsel for the Commander of 8th Air Force, the senior legal counsel for the Commander of Air Force Space Command, the senior legal counsel for the Commander of Air Combat Command, and the senior legal counsel for the Commander of United States Strategic Command. In his last active duty position in the Air Force, President Obama appointed (and the United States Senate confirmed) General Harding to serve a statutory four-year term as The Air Force Judge Advocate General stationed at the Pentagon, Washington, D.C.In that role, he served as the legal advisor to the Secretary of the Air Force, the Air Force Chief of Staff, and all Air Force officers thereunder. He professionally supervised 4400 Air Force attorneys, judges, paralegals, and civilian personnel in providing legal services to over 90 Air Force worldwide locations. He also served on the Air Force Corporate Board, making resource decisions regarding billions of dollars in national defense purchases. General Harding has traveled extensively overseas and in combat zones to advise commanders on the international law of armed conflict and their obligations. In his last few years on active duty, General Harding created the highly successful “Special Victims’ Counsel Program,” which provides free attorneys to victims of military sexual assault and which Congress passed into law and was adopted throughout the Department of Defense.
Upon retirement, General Harding and his wife, Linda, elected to leave Washington, D.C.and move to Columbia, Missouri, to be close to their children and young grandchildren. General Harding travels throughout the United States teaching continuing legal education programs for the Professional Education Group on the subjects of the law of armed conflict, ethics, and contemporary constitutional law. He also serves as a trustee for Columbia College and an advisory board member with the National Crime Victims’ Law Institute.

Jared Ebert

Larry L. McMullen

Of Counsel
Husch Blackwell

Larry is an experienced litigator who defends professional liability cases including medical and engineering claims. Having represented surgeons and physicians in Missouri and Kansas for more than 40 years, Larry has achieved many defense victories for doctors accused of injuring patients by substandard medical care. His legal experience includes securing a favorable verdict for the family of a deceased Marine veteran in a wrongful death action against the U.S. Veterans Administration. Outside the practice of law, Larry serves the healthcare industry. He currently sits on the Board of Directors for Saint Luke’s Home and Healthcare & Hospice. He also taught at the University of Missouri-Columbia School of Law.

Michael T. Raupp

Husch Blackwell

Michael Raupp assists clients with complex litigation, high-stakes regulatory disputes, and appellate proceedings. He regularly advises business and education clients on constitutional, statutory and procedural issues, including the First Amendment, the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA), the False Claims Act (FCA), class certification, federal jurisdiction, immunity, and due process.
Mr. Raupp has specific experience navigating challenging regulatory compliance matters and related litigation for colleges and universities, including Titles IV, VI and IX of the Higher Education Act, First Amendment free-speech protections for students and faculty, and student discipline. He has worked with both public and private institutions to achieve successful resolutions.
As a former federal appellate law clerk, Mr. Raupp also maintains a robust appellate practice, counseling clients through all stages of appeals including briefing and oral argument. He has helped clients secure significant judgments in federal and state appellate courts throughout the country.Mr. Raupp also drafts amicus briefs in important appellate cases, assisting organizations in having their voices heard on critical legal issues.
Before attending law school, Mr. Raupp was an investment analyst at an asset-management firm that focused on investments in China. While there, he focused on evaluating the current operations and growth plans for numerous businesses. This experience provides him a unique perspective when advising on business and finance disputes. Mr. Raupp has assisted businesses and organizations of all sizes, from start-ups to Fortune 500 public companies and major research institutions, defending their interests in contract disputes, trade secret litigation, and consumer disputes.

Christina Pyle

Husch Blackwell

Christina Pyle earned her B.S. in Marketing from Kansas State University where she served as a student ambassador and Student Council Vice President for the College of Business Administration. She then went on to earn a J.D. from Notre Dame Law School where she was a J. L. Wigand Jr. Notre Dame Legal Education Trust Scholar.
Ms. Pyle is currently an associate at Husch Blackwell where she assists clients with complex commercial disputes and class actions at both the state and federal levels.Ms. Pyle’s practice focuses on business litigation, and she has litigated matters involving business torts, contract disputes, consumer fraud, professional malpractice, employment, construction and design, premises liability, and insurance. As part of the firm’s franchise and distribution team, she regularly advises and defends franchisors against claims by franchisees and third parties.

Amy Kretkowski

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 NOVA’s Congressional Testimony and Outreach committees. Ms. Kretkowskihas taught CLEprogramsfor Iowa Legal Aid and conducts annual training for various veterans service groups in Iowa and around the country. She has presented at severalNOVA conferences and the CAVC’s2019 and 2016 Judicial Conferences. Ms. Kretkowskibegan her career in veterans’ law in 2009 as a judicial law clerk to the Honorable Mary J. Schoelenon 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, Ms. Kretkowskispent 18 years as an independent writer/producer for television in New York and Los Angeles. She lives in Iowa City with her husband Paul and an emotionally unstable husky mix named Ruckus.

Alexandria Curran

Appellate Attorney
Attig | Steel

Alexandra Curran is an attorney with Attig Steel, PLLC. Her experience with veterans’ disabilities began in 2010 when her husband was injured in combat in Afghanistan.
Ms. Curran graduated from the University of Rhode Island in 2007 and Roger Williams University School of Law in 2010. Following a clerkship with the Rhode Island Workers’ Compensation Court, Ms. Curran began representing veterans before the Board of Veterans’ Appeals and the United States Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims. She has spoken on matters related to veterans’ disabilities and also serves as a mentor attorney with The Veterans Consortium Pro Bono Program.
Ms. Curran is admitted to practice in Rhode Island, Massachusetts, the United States Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims, and the United States District Court for the District of Rhode Island. She is a member of the National Organization of Veterans Advocates, Military Spouse JD Network and Rhode Island Bar Association.

Amy F. Odom

Appellate Attorney

Amy Odom joined the firm CCK in September of 2018 as an appellate attorney. Her law practice focuses on representing disabled veterans at the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims and the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.
Ms. Odom graduated from the University of Florida with her B.A., cum laude, in 2003 and her J.D., cum laude, in 2006. During law school, she participated in the moot court program, was an intern at the Center for Government Responsibility, and was an extern for the Honorable Stephan Mickle, Northern District of Florida. Before joining CCK, Ms. Odom served as a staff attorney and then as the Director of Litigation at the National Veterans Legal Services Program (NVLSP). From 2006 to 2008, Amy was an Attorney-Advisor at the U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Administrative Law Judges.
Extremely active in the field of Veterans Law, Ms. Odom has served as the President of the CAVC Bar Association and the Veterans Court’s Judicial Advisory Committee. She also is a member of the National Organization of Veterans’ Advocates (NOVA). Ms. Odom was a panelist at the USCAVC Twelfth Judicial Conference in 2013 and the Fourteenth Judicial Conference in 2019. She was also a panelist at the NOVA Spring 2017 Conference. Ms. Odom is a credited author of the Veterans Benefits Manual 2009-2013 editions and a credited Editor of the 2014-2018/2019 editions. She has been a recurring speaker at the University of Missouri Veterans Law Clinic Symposium (2015, 2016, 2017).
In her free time, Ms. Odom enjoys spin classes on her Peloton, spending time with her two little girls and Navy vet husband and taking annual family vacations to her home state of Florida.

Kenneth M. Carpenter

Chief Executive Officer
Carpenter Chartered

Kenneth M. Carpenter received a B.A. in History & Political Science and a B.A. in Philosophy & Religion from Southwestern College in Winfield, Kansas in June 1970. He received a J.D. from Washburn University School of Law in Topeka, Kansas in 1972 and a Masters in Adult & Community Counseling from Kansas State University om Manhattan, Kansas in 1983.
Mr. Carpenter has been engaged in the private practice of law in Topeka, Kansas since 1973. He has been admitted to the following courts: Kansas Supreme Court, 1973; Federal District Court for the District of Kansas, 1973; 10th Circuit Court of Appeals, 1984; U. S. Court of Federal Claims,1987; Federal Circuit Court of Appeals, 1989; Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims, 1990; United States Supreme Court, 1990.
Carpenter exclusively practices veterans law and is a founding member of the National Organization of Veterans Advocates.
He is the Chief Executive Officer of Carpenter Chartered, a professional legal corporation which began doing pro bono representation of disabled veterans in 1983. The firm primarily represents psychiatrically disabled veterans, predominantly those with post-traumatic stress disorder. Carpenter Chartered also specializes in cases involving total disability ratings and earlier effective dates. The firm also does requests for revisions based on allegations of clear and unmistakable error and survivor claims for dependents of veterans.

Courtney Ross

Associate Attorney
Chisholm Chisholm & Kilpatrick

Courtney Ross joined Chisholm Chisholm & Kilpatrick in 2015 as an Associate Attorney. Her practice focuses on representing disabled veterans before the Department of Veterans Affairs.
Ms. Ross graduated from Roger Williams University where she earned her B.A. in Political Science, summa cum laude. After graduation, she worked as a legal assistant for a health benefits consulting company in Massachusetts. Ms. Rossthen earned her J.D., magna cum laude, from Roger Williams University School of Law in 2015. During her time in law school, she gained policy experience interning with the Office of House Policy for the Rhode Island General Assembly and with the National Women’s Law Center in Washington, D.C. Ross also gained experience in both corporate law and in the courtroom while interning for corporate counsel at Met Life Auto & Home and for the Bristol County District Attorney’s Office in Fall River, Massachusetts. Ms. Ross is a member of the Rhode Island Bar Association.
In her free time, Ms. Ross enjoys reading, traveling to new places, spending time with friends and family, and cheering on the New England Patriots!

Brigadier General John G. Baker

Chief Defense Counsel (CDC)
Military Commissions Defense Organization

Brigadier General John G. Baker is the Chief Defense Counsel (CDC) for the Military Commissions Defense Organization. In his capacity as the CDC, he oversees a joint service and total force staff of more than 156 military and civilian lawyers, paralegals, investigators, intelligence analysts, defense security officers, translators and administrative officers providing the full spectrum trial defense services to GTMO detainees charged under the MCA, to include capital cases.
Before his appointment as the CDC for the Military Commissions, General Baker served as the Deputy Director, Judge Advocate Division, for Military Justice and Community Development. He was responsible for oversight of the Marine Corps military justice practice and the professional development of the Marine Corps legal community. General Baker also served as the Marine Corps representative to the Department of Defense’s Joint Service Committee on Military Justice. Before serving as Deputy Director, GeneralBaker served as the CDC of the Marine Corps and was responsible for mentoring, training, and supervising all defense attorneys and defense support personnel across the Marine Corps in their litigation of hundreds of courts-martial each year. While serving as the CDC of the Marine Corps, General Baker established the Marine Corps’ Defense Services Organization which transformed the delivery of defense counsel to Marines and sailors charged under the Uniform Code of Military Justice. Before this position, General Baker served as the Regional Defense Counsel for the Eastern Region where he mentored and trained Marine Corps defense attorneys at all Marine Corps installations east of the Mississippi and in theater when II Marine Expeditionary Force was forward. General Baker also carried a small caseload of complex cases, which included capital murder, serious sexual assaults, and other felonies, as well as allegations of misconduct by senior officers. Before serving as the Regional Defense Counsel-East, General Baker personally participated in several hundred courts-martial and served in a variety of leadership and litigation billets within the Marine Corps legal community, to include Military Judge, Staff Judge Advocate and Law Center Director at Marine Corps Base Quantico, Senior Trial Counsel, Military Justice Officer, Chief Trial Counsel, Special Assistant United States Attorney, and Senior Defense Counsel. Before becoming a judge advocate, General Baker served as a supply officer until he was selected to attend law school under the Law Education Program.
General Baker is a graduate of the University of Pittsburgh School of Law (J.D. 1997), Averett University (M.B.A. 1992), and Union College (B.S. 1989). He also holds an LL.M. from The Judge Advocate General’s Legal Center and School (TJAGLCS), U.S. Army (2005). General Baker has been a faculty member for the National Association of Criminal Defense Attorney’s Capital Voir Dire Training and has lectured at Yale Law School, University of Pennsylvania School of Law, Pittsburgh School of Law, University of Colorado Law School, the Louisiana Capital Defenders Course, the New York City Bar Association, TJAGLCS, and the Naval Justice School. His decorations include the Legion of Merit with one gold star, Meritorious Service Medal with three gold stars, the Joint Service Commendation Medal, the Navy-Marine Corps Commendation Medal, the Navy-Marine Corps Achievement Medal, the Army Achievement Medal, and the Combat Action Ribbon.


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.

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Gold Ribbon Sponsors

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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