Justice for Warriors Newsletter
March 2021
Dear Friends,

It is hard to believe it has been one year since COVID-19 reshaped our lives and impacted almost every aspect of our lives. We recognize the loss that many have experienced during this time. We are grateful for your support which helped NVLSP fare well through this pandemic.

The experience of the last year makes the marking of our 40th anniversary all the more meaningful. Since NVLSP was established in November 1981, staff have demonstrated an outstanding commitment to help veterans. And 2020 was no different. In our 40th anniversary year and beyond, NVLSP will continue to serve veterans, service members, and their families.
Bart Stichman, Executive Director
NVLSP And VSOs Sent Letter To VA Secretary McDonough Urging Withdrawal of Wolfe v. Wilkie Appeal
In February 2021, NVLSP and other VSOs (The American Legion, Disabled American Veterans, Paralyzed Veterans of America, Veterans of Foreign Wars, and Vietnam Veterans of America) sent a letter to new VA Secretary McDonough urging he instruct the VA to voluntarily withdraw its appeal and pay veterans their overdue emergency medical expenses. Click here to read the complete letter.

NVLSP And Swords To Plowshares Sent VA Secretary Letter On Character of Discharge Regulations
NVLSP and Swords to Plowshares on February 10, 2021 sent a letter to VA Secretary McDonough requesting expanded care to veterans with less than honorable discharges. The letter was signed by more than 20 attorneys, advocates and law professors. Specifically, the letter requests that in his first 100 days as VA Secretary issue the final COD regulations in better accordance with VA’s governing law and VA’s purpose of serving our nation’s veterans. The groups also requested a meeting with Secretary McDonough. Click here to read more
­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­NVLSP Class Action Challenges VA Refusal to Provide Over One Million Veterans With Paper Application Forms Needed To Start A Benefits Claim
On February 9, 2021, NVLSP together with pro bono counsel Covington & Burling LLP, filed a class action lawsuit in the U. S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims (CAVC) accusing the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) of failing to comply with its legal obligation to mail the official VA paper application forms that must be used to start a benefits claim to veterans and survivors who inform VA that they wish to apply for benefits. The lawsuit asserts that ever since 2015, when VA began to require use of an official VA form to start a benefits claim, the VA has been mailing those who want to file a claim a template letter informing them where to find the official forms on the VA’s website, without enclosing a paper copy of the forms in the envelope. As a result, NVLSP asserts that the VA failed to mail forms to more than one million veterans and their survivors. Click here to read more.
NVLSP Files Class Action Lawsuit Challenging U.S. Navy’s “Properly Referred Policy”
On February 2, 2021, NVLSP and Perkins Coie LLP, filed a class action complaint in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, on behalf of Mr. Oscar D. Torres and former members of the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps who were wrongfully denied military disability retirement. The lawsuit challenges the Navy’s use of the “Properly Referred Policy” to deny military disability retirement to Mr. Torres and other similarly situated servicemembers. A Sailor or Marine who is retired for disability is entitled to monthly retirement payments and military medical care (“Tricare”) for the servicemember, his or her spouse, and the servicemember’s children while they remain dependents. Click here to learn more.
Click here to listen to NVLSP’s Executive Director Bart Stichman talk about the lawsuit in his interview on Federal News Network.
­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­NVLSP's Co-Founder and Executive Director Bart Stichman offers his insights on the issues related to less than honorable discharges in A Proposed Legal Settlement Could Upgrade The Discharges Of Thousands of Ex-Soldiers on the American Homefront Project. You can read the article and listen to the interview here.
Also listen to NVLSP Co-Founder and Executive Director Bart Stichman's engaging in-depth discussion on his lifelong work for veterans and the evolution of the legal landscape for veterans with Lawyer Up Podcast Host Ron Syskstus.
Rochelle Bobroff, Director of NVLSP’s Pro Bono Program Lawyers Serving Warriors® weighed in on the issues facing veterans who have received “less than honorable” discharges due to their sexual orientation. Read the Stars And Stripes article here
­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­UPDATED GUAM WHITE PAPER RELEASED
NVLSP and the Veterans Legal Services Clinic at Yale Law School released a February 2021 update to a white paper they published in May 2020. The original white paper concluded veterans who served on Guam from 1962 to 1975 satisfied the Department of Veterans Affairs (“VA”) legal standard for exposure to Agent Orange and other dioxin-containing herbicides. The conclusion was based on an exhaustive review conducted over nearly two years of government, private, archival, and oral history evidence of herbicide use in Guam during the Vietnam era. The updated white paper expands the timeline to include veterans who served on Guam from the period of 1958 through 1980. Learn more about the report here
­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­TRANSITIONS AT NVLSP
Bart Stichman To Step Down As NVLSP’s Executive Director, To Remain as Special Counsel
Ron Flagg, the Chair of the Board of Directors of NVLSP, announced that NVLSP Co-Founder and Executive Director Bart Stichman will be stepping down as Executive Director after more than 40 years at the helm. Stichman will remain with NVLSP as Special Counsel, focusing on NVLSP’s litigation activities. Click here to read the full press release.
NVLSP Welcomes Renée Burbank As Director of Litigation
NVLSP is pleased to announce the hiring of Renée Burbank as NVLSP’s Director of Litigation. Ms. Burbank is coming to NVLSP with a wealth of legal experience. After serving as a law clerk for Judge David B. Sentelle of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, Ms. Burbank spent 8 years in the Civil Division of the U.S. Department of Justice representing the Government as lead counsel or co-counsel in more than 100 lawsuits. Thereafter, Ms. Burbank moved to Yale Law School, where she has worked for nearly three years as Clinical Lecturer in Law, Research Scholar in Law and Robert M. Cover Clinical Teaching Fellow at the School’s Veterans Legal Services Clinic. Click here to learn more
­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­NVLSP continues its dedication to veteran law education by growing its webinar schedule in an effort to educate more veterans advocates on strategies for securing disability benefits for their clients. Experienced NVLSP attorneys will lead discussions on the following topics: 

NVLSP also has a comprehensive library of over 20 previously recorded webinars that are available at your convenience. 

NVLSP's Training & Publications program also offers: in-person training, the Online Basic Training Course, the Veterans Benefits Manual, and the VA Benefit Identifier App.
Caitlin Milo
Caitlin Milo is a Senior Appellate Attorney working on NVLSP’s appellate litigation team. In her position, Caitlin represents veterans before the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims (CAVC), screens Board of Veterans’ Appeals decisions to appeal to the CAVC, trains and mentors other attorneys representing veterans before the CAVC, and is a co-author of NVLSP’s Veterans Benefits Manual (VBM).

Since joining NVLSP in November 2015, Caitlin has worked on over 250 matters resulting in many favorable outcomes for her clients. As a mentor, Caitlin is a force multiplier, using her expertise in veterans law to help more attorneys advocate for veterans.

Caitlin first learned about NVLSP during her Equal Justice Works / AmeriCorps Fellowship where she represented veterans seeking VA benefits and facing homelessness. On her first day at her fellowship, she saw a copy of NVLSP’s VBM on her desk. Caitlin says it is a privilege to now be one of the VBM co-authors. To this day, there is a VBM on her desk!

Caitlin believes NVLSP serves as a watchdog organization, providing a check of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and ensuring the VA complies with the laws that protect and indemnify veterans and their families. For Caitlin, veterans law is unique as it is a relatively new and a developing legal field that is always evolving. Veterans law is also a complex field and Caitlin values her time as an NVLSP mentor helping new attorneys navigate the intricacies of veterans law.

Caitlin began her journey into the legal field to help people and she is very proud that she has the opportunity assist deserving veterans and their families through the benefits process. Caitlin lives in New Jersey with her Navy veteran husband and their two children. A fun fact about Caitlin, she has competed in two marathons.
We hope this newsletter inspires you to become more active with NVLSP. If you want to help NVLSP do more for our veterans, here are a few suggestions.

  1. You can follow us on Twitter, connect with us on LinkedIn, and like us on Facebook.
  2. Help us promote our free App for veterans.
  3. Tell a friend about NVLSP.

We look forward to connecting with you again soon!