Home  |   About   |   Donate 

Justice for Warriors Newsletter
May 2019 
Major Progress For Blue Water Vietnam Veterans
On January 29, 2019, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit issued a landmark decision in   Procopio v. Wilkie which extends the presumption of Agent Orange exposure to all veterans who served in the Republic of Vietnam, whether on land or on the territorial seas.

NVLSP hailed the decision because it unequivocally righted a terrible injustice to all veterans who were exposed to Agent Orange in the waters of Vietnam and recognized the legitimacy of the Blue Water Vietnam Veterans claims for disability benefits related to Agent Orange exposure...

NVLSP on the Air

NVLSP Executive Director on Federal News Network
NVLSP Executive Director Bart Stichman took to the airwaves to advance the concerns of the Wolfe v. Wilkie class action lawsuit which is based on the VA's denial of reimbursement of emergency-care expenses at non-VA facilities.
NVLSP has filed suit three times over VA's failure to comply with the Emergency Care Fairness Act of 2010 (ECFA). NVLSP represented veteran Richard Staab ( Staab v. Shulkin ) in the first landmark case filed in 2014 after the VA declined to reimburse him for any of the $48,000 he incurred for emergency open heart surgery purely because secondary insurance covered part of the emergency care bill.  Mr. Staab has still not been paid.
Stichman appeared recently in a story on May 7, 2019 that aired on WHIO-TV in Ohio discussing the case.  WHIO-TV 's segment also included a rare interview with Mr. Staab.  The story was also picked up in the Dayton Daily News , Stars & Stripes , and Springfield News Sun .
On Federal News Network with Tom Temin, Stichman discussed the U.S. Dept. of Veterans Affairs (VA) recent  admission  that it misled tens of thousands of veterans who had applied for reimbursement of the emergency-care expenses they incurred at non-VA facilities. The admission came in VA's March 15, 2019 court-ordered response to the lawsuit that NVLSP filed,  Wolfe v. Wilkie .
Oral arguments in Wolfe v. Wilkie took place May 14, 2019 and were livestreamed (link here)
Update on Severance Tax Refund Issue for Veterans:
Time is running out for many veterans to file their claims

In 2014, NVLSP discovered a computer glitch by the government that erroneously taxed the lump sum severance pay of 133,000 combat-injured veterans. NVLSP considered filing litigation to help veterans, but felt the best option to assist all of the veterans affected, was to ask Congress to pass legislation. With the sponsorship and leadership of Senator John Boozman (R-AR), Senator Mark Warner (D-VA) and Congressman David Rouzer (R-NC), the "Combat-Injured Veterans Tax Fairness Act of 2016" was passed in December 2016.
As a result of this legislation, in July 2018, the Department of Defense (DOD) mailed letters to the 133,000 veterans discharged from military service due to medical disability after January 17, 1991. The legislation required DOD to identify the veterans who were unfairly denied the full amount of their Disability Severance Pay. As a result of this legislation and letter, many veterans may have received a long overdue federal tax refund. Additionally, veterans may also be eligible for a refund of state taxes as well. 
NVLSP has compiled a list of some state specific information for California, Florida, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York and Virginia.
However, veterans only have one year from the delivery of the DOD letter to file their claim so the clock is running down for many to file if they received their letters last July.  At this point, NVLSP does not believe that the IRS will extend the deadline to file for a federal tax refund.  Accordingly, many veterans may only have until the end of July 2019 to file a claim with the IRS for a federal tax refund. 
NVLSP's Lawyers Serving Warriors® pro bono program staff are ready to help veterans address the variety of issues related to this severance tax refund. We urge veterans to contact NVLSP for assistance by emailing us at [email protected] or by phone (202) 862-8305 ext. 152.
Serena Nguyen, Staff Attorney

Serena Nguyen is a Staff Attorney with the Nehmer team at NVLSP. Serena joined NVLSP immediately after graduating law school and has worked with the Nehmer team for the duration of her time at NVLSP.

On a daily basis, Serena and the Nehmer team contact Vietnam War veterans and their beneficiaries about their potential benefits under the Nehmer v. U.S. Dep't of Veterans Affairs class action lawsuit.
Serena's interest in veterans law began when she worked with the Public Affairs/Ceremonial Events Team at Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) throughout her undergraduate career. At NAVSEA, Serena assisted in drafting media press releases and responding to congressional inquiries regarding the construction of our Navy's fleet. Through this experience,  Serena worked with many inspirational and outstanding Naval officers, which led her to consider becoming a JAG while in law school. Overall, Serena appreciates that through her work she can advocate and help others, particularly our nation's veterans.

Serena embraces both the challenges and rewards of working on the Nehmer team. Speaking with veterans and their families directly has helped Serena hone her counseling skills and made her a better lawyer. One of the most rewarding aspects of her work is the knowledge that she is having a direct and quantifiable impact on the lives of veterans and their families. The potential benefits for the veterans and their families can be life changing. On a personal level, Serena appreciates that her work connects with her family history as her parents came to the United States as refugees of the Vietnam War.

Serena recently visited Italy and participated in an Asian-American pageant.

Nehmer v. U.S. Dep't of Veterans Affairs: This landmark case has already resulted in the delivery of over $4.5 billion in VA compensation benefits to veterans and their survivors. The case originated with VA regulations mandating denial of benefits claims by Vietnam veterans who had diseases associated with exposure to Agent Orange. In 1989, a federal court found the regulation unlawful, and class members received retroactive and prospective benefits. NVLSP has continued to represent the class as the VA has recognized additional diseases associated with Agent Orange exposure.

NVLSP at U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims Fourteenth Judicial Conference

NVLSP's Amie Leonard and Stacy Tromble
NVLSP Executive Director Bart Stichman shared his valuable insights at the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims (CAVC) Fourteenth Judicial Conference. Stichman was one of the key panelists at the Conference's break-out seminars on "Toxic Exposure and Disability Compensation" held at The National Press Club on April 11, 2019.
In related news, on April 10, 2019 NVLSP's Director of CAVC Litigation, Stacy Tromble (pictured on the right), presented oral argument on behalf of Air Force veteran, Mr. Thomas Buffington, at the U.S. CAVC (Docket 17-4382). NVLSP Appellate Attorney, Amie Leonard (pictured on the left), sat second chair. Mr. Buffington is challenging a VA regulation that denied him his VA compensation during a period when he was not on active duty and was otherwise entitled to that compensation. NVLSP, on behalf of Mr. Buffington, has argued that the regulation is inconsistent with statutes and that the VA deprived him of his constitutionally protected Fifth Amendment Due Process rights.  
NVLSP's Lawyers Serving Warriors® (LSW) Program Expands Clinic Outreach

NVLSP Pro Bono Director Rochelle Bobroff with clinic attendees
NVLSP's Lawyers Serving Warriors® program has greatly expanded its Know Your Rights  clinics in 2018-2019. LSW clinics cover a multitude of topics including Discharge Upgrades, Medical Retirement, and CRSC. 

LSW is planning more clinics over the summer, On June 12, 2019, LSW will partner with Morgan Lewis to host a discharge upgrade and military retirement clinic in DC.

Stay tuned to our social media and website for more upcoming clinics!
Upcoming NVLSP Webinar Trainings

NVLSP continues its dedication to veteran law education by growing its webinar schedule in an effort to educate more attorneys and veterans advocates on strategies for securing disability benefits for their clients. Over the course of the 2019 summer season, experienced NVLSP attorneys will lead  discussions on the following topic:
NVLSP also has a comprehensive library of over 20 previously recorded webinars that are available at your convenience. Recent topics include: The New VA Appeals System (Appeals Modernization), Secondary Service Connection Claims, and New Changes to VA's Non-Service-Connected Disability Pension Program.
2019 Row for Warriors Dragon Boat Race

Join NVLSP's Advisory Council for the Fourth Annual Row for Warriors Dragon Boat Race on August 3, 2019! 

Row for Warriors is the signature event of the NVLSP Advisory Council. The dragon boat race helps raise funds and awareness of NVLSP's mission to ensure our nation's active duty personnel and veterans receive the disability benefits to which they are entitled. Row for Warriors is part of the Annual Capital Dragon Boat Regatta at The Wharf

Click here to read about and view pictures from the 2018 race.

Please visit the Row for Warriors webpage or email [email protected] for further details on ways to participate.  
Ways You Can Help

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!