Every once in a while, either someone sends me a great article or a link to one. Once, I got the Army manual on the care and feeding of jetguns. Nurse Silvia went one better and sent me a whole jetgun. Last night I received the BVA Purplebook, known in decades past simply as the BVA handbook. It isn’t a Top Secret/Crypto For Your Eyes Only document, but then again it isn’t exactly well-known outside the BVA. In fact, the 2018 version below is one of the few known to exist outside 810 Denial Avenue NW. I’m waiting for BVA Chief Honcho Cheryl Mason to call next Monday and ask me to take it down under threat of losing my license to torment the 56 Puzzle Palaces across our fruited plains.
Oddly, even VA Veterans Law Judges have been known to cite to it. I ran across it several days ago when one of my friends deep in the heart of Texas asked me if I’d ever heard of it. This was in relation to an interesting new CAVC appeal ( Docket #18-6798) which is only now at the appellant’s brief stage. It’s going to be a barn burner class action suit with a panel on Hypertension due to Agent Orange herbicide exposure. See https://efiling.uscourts.cavc.gov/cmecf/servlet/TransportRoom
Type in 18-6798 in the case number/ range box.
As most of you know, the VA was expected to include several new service connected presumptives to include hypertension by June 30th of this year- now three days past. Due to matters beyond the VA Secretary’s control (think Procopio), that isn’t going to happen. The entry of the Blue Water Squids (just out to the 12-mile limit, mind you) is going to create a dent in the VA compensation coffers and there will be no money left for merit pay for a while until
Shulkin Wilkie gets a new budget in the next fiscal year.
The Purplebook is numbered identically as the M 21 which is a non sequitur. The BVA, and every Law Judge I argue in front of, categorically deny they will accept the M 21 1MR as “law”. I have been interrupted in mid-sentence at oral briefing and told to convert the cite to 38 USC or CFR for the record. The Purple Book is essentially a compendium of precedence compiled by the BVA from the ever-evolving decisions of the CAVC, CAFC and the Supreme Court. Procopio is an excellent example of how Haas v Peake was rendered obsolete in less than 12 years. Karnas turned into Kuzma and so on. Law changes and so must the Purplebook.
The Purplebook is a primer for the slew of new GS 14 BVA staff attorneys-many of whom are arriving from law school with their new degrees and can’t even spell Veteran. Most Veterans do not realize that Veterans law is almost alien to most FNG law dogs. They’ve been taught nothing about this venue. When they’re hired, they have to virtually go back to law school and learn its intricacies from scratch. Unfortunately, there is no true law school devoted to teaching pure VA law in existence except here at asknod. Concepts like deferential treatment to pro se Vets, the benefit of the doubt and far more require reading 38 USC and 38 CFR to comprehend we are a sheltered class granted all manner of special considerations.
I caught a fleeting glimpse of this Purplebook mention in a February 2019 BVA decision here:
and here in an April 2019 appeal:
Subsequently, it appears that jurisdiction over the claims regarding
the migraine headaches was transferred to the RO in Des Moines, Iowa. However, because this appeal originated from the RO in Waco and does not involve issues dependent on different law and facts, it will be the subject of this decision. See BVA Memorandum No. 01-18-04; VA Purple book 01-18-v1.0.0. Moreover, the Veteran currently resides
in Texas; hence, jurisdiction should be changed as appropriate.
After spotting it again in Mr. Johnson’s brief at the CAVC, it became a quest to unearth this “adjudications manual”. While the document, in and of itself, is probably not earth-shattering, it’s one more tool in the Veterans law tool belt. I see it more as a guidebook to measure how a VLJ will approach your decision. Will s/he bend over backwards to give you real justice or will s/he merely pay VA law lip service and merrily proceed to adjudicate the appeal as they see fit? At least this way you might find a piton to drive into a judicial crack and prevail.
I find it disingenuous to have a document like the Purplebook in existence and have no one the wiser of its application to VA law. It just seems sleazy and underhanded to hide it or to avoid disclosing its existence. In my mind, our claims process is stacked heavily against us as most Vets are ignorant of VA law. For the BVA to obfuscate and dissemble to the VA lawyer or Agent is even more egregious. It sounds like a book about Barney the Dinosaur.
Please thank all of those who work at VA who feel we need to know as much as we can behind the scenes judicially.
Et voilà- the Purplebook, courtesy of a good friend who will remain nameless.
I also placed it up above in the widgets for quick access.
And that’s all I’m going to say about that
Or, in the famous words of one Sgt. Shultz, “I know nuffink.”
P.S. I’m flattered. I googled the term BVA Purplebook and it comes up with asknod. Funnier yet, someone attached the links to a post on appeals over at one of our competitor sites known to have VA Veterans Benefits Administration DROs as moderators . They also 86’d me after I asked too many questions about 6 years ago. The link was promptly erased to suppress any mention of asknod, Fergoogle or the Purplebook. You can still see it here in the screen grabs:
As you can see when you go to the link, it’s dead. The site’s censors are careful to eradicate anything I author that might be helpful to Veterans. Pro VA or Pro Veteran? We report. You decide. Ask yourself why any Veteran or Veterans website would want to suppress information which might be useful to other Veterans.