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Report: New VA Regulations May Harm Veterans

Changes Mandate Veterans Use Only VA Forms to File or Appeal Claims.

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) “seeks to dramatically change the way our warriors apply for benefits,” according to a news report.

In an article written by investigative journalist Jamie Reno for the new web site Veteran Journal, VA intends to mandate that Veterans use only the agency’s disability claim and appeal forms.

VA’s proposed regulations, published in the Federal Register shortly before Veterans Day, change decades of pro-Veteran practice and court cases where Veterans can simply write VA a letter to apply for benefits or initiate the disability claim appeal process.

Is VA Forcing Veterans to Become Doctors and Attorneys?

Glenn Bergmann, a partner at Bergmann & Moore, told the Veteran Journal that, “While on the surface these proposed regulations look veteran-friendly, they really are not.”  According to the article, under VA’s proposed new regulations Veterans must be more specific, including using only VA’s forms.

  • If a Veteran’s medical condition is not properly listed, then “VA could deny the claim because it is not specific.”
  • If a Veteran wants to appeal a VA claim decision, then a Veteran must “specifically describe VA’s mistake.”
  • VA’s new rules could “harm those veterans who may not have a lawyer or a Veteran Service Organization to provide guidance.”

General Bradley’s Warning to VA

President Henry Truman named Omar Bradley, a retired General of the Army during World War II, to lead the Veterans Administration, as the agency was known prior to 1989.

Bradley was seen as the “G.I.’s General,” and was brought in to improve VA services provided to our Veterans after World War II, including healthcare, disability benefits, and the famous GI Bill.  VA should remember Bradley’s famous 1947 quote, a poignant inspiration to many VA employees:

     We’re dealing with veterans, not procedures, with their problems, not ours.

The bottom line is that VA’s efforts to streamline the agency so it can more efficiently decide claims undermines the agency’s ability to adequately assist our disabled Veterans by establishing unreasonable barriers.

VA’s actions are unacceptable at a time when nearly one-third of our Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans returning home suffer from posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), traumatic brain injury (TBI), or are unemployable due to their disabilities.   Applying for and appealing VA benefits should not be made difficult for our wounded, injured, ill, and disabled Veterans.

Bergmann & Moore opposes VA’s proposed rule and plans to object to it by submitting comments to the agency.

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