Every once and in while I receive inviting news of how the VA is secretly employing chemtrails to change our minds and prevent us from winning our claims. Others talk of vast Left or Right wing conspiracies hatched in Arkansas fishing shacks to do as much. And then there is the school of thought that VA secretly is in league with Vet attorneys and pays them NOT to take our cases or worse-to throw sand in the gears causing us to lose.
I enclose the following from an anonymous member The subject header was:
Are You Aware that the VA…
pays attorneys to take our cases for the express purpose of giving us bad advice? Before I knew that attorneys could not accept payment until our claims go before the U.S. Court of Appeals I was taken in by three of these attorneys, all in different states. It’s easy to detect these guys; all they’ll ask from the vet is his DOB, SSN, and Name. With this they contact the VA who in turns gives the attorney precise instructions on how to best MISGUIDE the Veteran.
Has anyone ever discussed this with you. I know your very knowledgeable about these things.
My response follows:
The law is dispositive on this now since 2004( or was it 2007?) The moment a Vet receives a denial from the Agency of Original Jurisdiction (where you file), he is entitled to a lawyer if he so desires. Many do not know this. Many lawyers do not realize they can influence our claims this early in the process. I’ve had attorneys tell me they cannot touch it if you filed new and material evidence after a VARO denial. I’ve had them tell me they cannot be hired until you get to the BVA. The fact of the matter is simple. Just like anyone in Vetland, you get to choose who represents you the moment you lose the first time. Period. I know. It sucks and they don’t even give us A Miranda Warning.
If you are unhappy with DAV, pull your Power of Attorney (POA) and take it elsewhere. If you can get a Vet attorney to take it, off you go. The only time you are stuck with them is at the CAVC once you file. At that point this person will become your shield bearer. Not all accepted to practice VA law have the CAVC credentials. It costs $1000 a year for a license to practice there and even more up at the Federal Circus. Few Vet attorneys, if any, keep active credentials at the Supreme Court.
Some attorneys are not as motivated as others and cherry pick really good claims. Some claims that will return very little (like hearing loss or tinnitus) are not deemed as important or worth their time if they are really good attorneys. If you were F. Lee Bailey, would you be taking cases for guys who were suing for auto claims of $5,000 dollars? No. You’d reserve your time for the guys who were paying $3,000 an hour for your expertise on a difficult claim for PTSD or Hep C back to 1994.
Sadly, there are Vet’s attorneys who claim-shop. I won’t name them. We just thank our lucky stars that some Vet attorneys are there for us when the really long, drawn out litigation occurs over a decade or more. The Ken Carpenters, the Virginia Girard-Bradys, the Robert Chisholms and others too numerous to mention, are better than no line of defense at all. NVLSP and NOVA have wonderful pro bono programs for just this contingency at the CAVC. The fact that these fellows are limited to 20% and EAJA fees is why some have to be more careful not to sandbag themselves into an earned-income bracket. Nobody gets rich at this except for the gomers who work at VA and the VSO hierarchy. Thirty years ago they fought each other to be president for free at the DAV and the VFW. Now they pay themselves $350 K a year for wearing funny hats, going to conventions and getting drunk. There’s the crime, sir. Vet’s attorneys do not make $350 K a year. Ever. Not on Vet claims.
Never ever think that you are in this alone unless you are using a VSO with the brains God gave a rubber duck. Somewhere out there is a Vet attorney that cannot stand to see injustice. You, as a Veteran have to “prequalify yourself” as you would for a home loan. You cannot arrive with all your legal knowledge and loudly proclaim you’ve been wronged. You have to have a claim that will hold water. Perhaps therein lies the problem for many. They are so utterly convinced they have a viable case that they overlook the obstacles in actually proving it.
Many come to me each month and say “I have a claim for CUE and the attorney won’t take it. Who do you recommend that will?” If an attorney won’t take it, he’s not cherry picking it. He knows it won’t float. He also might consider it much ado about nothing. Remember, there are Vets out there dying of diseases and injuries far more serious that Follicular Barbae and pes planus. Never prejudge a Vet lawyer’s motivations solely on your failure to interest him in your case. He, as an officer of the Court , is held to a higher standard and must legally reject anything he sees as frivolous or a waste of the Court’s time. He risks censure for disobeying the dictate. This is why the Extraordinary Writ at the CAVC was considered shakey ground to tread for decades. A pro se Vet risks nothing except being thrown out on his or her ear. A Vet attorney risks being denied privileges of practicing there if he pisses them off. They walk a fine line.
Besides, let’s be logical. VA is too busy trying to figure out how to line their own pockets with unwarranted bonuses. What would make you think they would set aside their greed and share the largesse with a bunch of Vet attorneys? It flies against their grain. I prefer to use the Occam’s razor for this test.
When you see the rules in a clearer light, you begin to understand this isn’t a spaghetti-contest to get some pasta to stick on the judicial wall. Unlike us, law dogs have to observe decorum . Hell, even VSOs are legally relegated to the booby bin as unschooled bumpkins. And once you realize that, you are well on your way to winning. Knowledge is power. VA would prefer you were a mushroom in the dark with a VSO handmaiden. And that’s all I’m gonna say about that.
One day approximately 12 to fourteen years ago, I phoned exactly 10 Illinois law firms, seeking help with VA Claims and appeals. Without knowing absolutely any merits of my situations or even my name for that matter, the answer to the question ” DOES YOUR FIRM ASIST IN MATTERS OF VETERANS CLAIMS AND APPEALS”?, Was 10 times a resounding NO. During the tenth call I inquired as to why. It was explained to me that all the reluctance had something to do with some kind of VA Regulation that was allegedly in place at that time. I used the Chicago yellow pages to find the law firms I contacted on that day. I don’t recall seeing any adds for attorneys specializing or concentrating in Veterans Law. I am not sure, so don’t quote me on this, I believe there were bare minimal to none. Today we are bombarded with VA attorney advertisement Via every means possible.
My point and my theory are one in the same.
VA Corruption has prepared a grand table for the dogs ( shyster lawyers ) who will only take claims that clearly should be or should have been granted at the first crack at bat.
Claims that are on the books due solely to that VA corruption which is now so blatant and undeniable.
In the big High Definition Picture alongside the true scheme of things pertaining, Not much has changed for Veterans from then till now. Reason being is that every thing VA does in the right direction is sadly, to little to late, thus things don’t really change .
So yes I see it, I said it and I mean it, THE DOGS EAT WELL, WHILE DEPRIVED VETERANS STRUGGLE , SUFFER AND DIE WAITING ON DUE PROCESS THAT IS BEING STRATIGCLY, PURPOSELY OBSTRUCTED BY SOME SHAMELESS PEOPLE
I agree completely, but I will say a new dawn is rising at VA. They are being corralled at the CAVC and made to heel. Schoelen, Bartley and Greenberg, buttressed by Hagel is a four of a kind in this poker game. Not much can beat it. Watch the newspapers for Kasold stepping down around Christmas.
Yep, The VA Claims system is a joke. I suffer from Prostate Cancer which came from my exposure to Agent Orange in Vietnam (67 & 68). I have been battling problems with my prostate since 2005 when it deformed and grew taller on one side so my ability to urinate was hindered when my bladder filled. Portsmouth Naval Hosp did Green Light Laser surgery on it and it was okay till April 2012 when the urologist there discovered I had a PSA of 14.3 and cancer. I received 44 Proton Therapy Treatment to try to kill the cancer. So far I am doing well but the VA who initially gave me 100% disability compensation saw fit to reduce it to presently just 20%. I have appealed that decision as they made that decision based on a unqualified Doctor of their choice who had no training or certification on Proton cancer treatments. I asked them if they thought that the Agent Orange had decided to leave my body. If that is so then why do I have to undergo testing every 6 months to insure it hasn’t cropped up somewhere else? I had other Service connected problems that I also have submitted new claims for. I asked the American Legion for representative help. That must have got the VA’s attention because they sent me a letter asking for documentation, which I sent them in 6 enclosures to a response letter. But because I contacted the Legion they now wanted me to send evidence to their “Evidence Collection Center” in Georgia instead of the Office in Roanoke, Va that I had been dealing with. They appear to be trying to find another excuse not to Compensate me, but I will not go away easily and plan to take my case to the media and sue them in Federal Court if they deny me my claims this time..
can you post a list of attorneys that do good and the ones that look for a rainmaker. Myself , I have given my case to woods and woods in Iowa. Ever hear of them? They took my case right away. I’m not looking to do illegal here I just want justice….the Hep-C virus is my forte’ and I just want to get reimbursed for my home and all the money I have spent to stay alive. I want to sue the hell out of them. I am really pissed about this. Getting short RAY
I write up cases and certain attorneys are written up as well. I don’t advocate advertising for attorneys on my site. It’s unseemly. Vet attorneys are free to comment and tell us about themselves here. It’s designed to be an open forum that still maintains some anonymity for those who desire it. If I am asked personally if I’d do this, I occasionally do. What I have discovered tells me if the attorney does not produce as the Vet measures it, I am at fault for advancing their name. Best to play Switzerland.
Well said. I am no rocket scientist , however after finding this site I have that most of the “VA attourneys are looking for the lowhanging fruit or do not know the regs nearly as well as Mr Graham. Went to appeals hearings last week and left DRO with his mouth open. We are not supposed to know their system according to them. WIN OR DIE