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VA Assigns Liaison Officer to Assist with Claims Involving Classified Files

Reflecting the nature of the work involved, VA quietly assigned a full-time VBA employee to serve as liaison officer to the U.S. Special Operations Command at the command’s headquarters at MacDill Air Force Base just outside of Tampa, Florida in December 2009.  Though the liaison has been in place for nearly a year, the program is widely unknown.  The liaison operates under an agreement between DoD and VA.  The VA liaison’s role is help those veterans who have trouble proving their claims because they involve special operations duty – such as veterans with PTSD who claim their in-service stressors occurred during a special ops assignment but cannot otherwise provide documentation to show this.  The liaison works with the command historian and has access to classified missions for special ops units in all services – including Army Rangers, Navy SEALS, and Reconnaissance units.  The VA liaison also has access to intelligence operations conducted by the DIA and CIA.  When a veteran asserts that his claim involves a secret mission, the liaison searches the classified files to verify the veteran’s involvement.  The liaison then provides appropriate information to the RO processing the claim.  The liaison officer will not normally contact the veteran directly unless more information is needed to track down the appropriate records.

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