Information for Veterans Service Officers
The Veterans Consortium Pro Bono Program provides trained attorneys who specialize in representing veterans throughout their process of challenging a Board of Veterans Appeals denial. They represent the veterans from the start of submitting their initial appeal to the United States Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims (CAVC) throughout each step of the process, to the U.S. Supreme Court, If necessary.
Our Free Services
We train and provide volunteer attorneys to represent veterans or their loved ones appealing the adverse Board of Veterans Appeals decision to the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims (CAVC). Our services are completely free. The VA will have an attorney and we want to ensure that the veteran has one too, especially since the appeals process tends to be complex and the veteran’s chance of success dramatically increases when he or she is represented.
A veteran or their loved one will qualify for our services if they meet these requirements:
- Received an adverse decision from the Board of Veterans Appeals
- Filed an appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims (Court). NOTE: If he or she has not yet filed the appeal, we can assist the client or support you, the service officer, in helping them with filing the appeal.
- Qualify financially, which is a simple threshold test that the vast majority of veterans seeking benefits qualify for. (Veterans that file a Declaration of Hardship at the Court automatically qualify for our services.)
- Have a meritorious issue in their case
We evaluate each case to find an issue that can be argued before the Court by a volunteer attorney.
If we do not find an issue with merit, we will provide the appellant with information about their case and provide limited legal assistance to the appellant if they want to proceed with their case on their own.
Often cases represented by our volunteers are remanded to back to the VA for further action. In those situations we refer the appellants back to their service officer to continue with the case.
We also provide assistance with discharge upgrades through our Discharge Upgrade Program, sponsored by the DAV Charitable Service Trust. Veterans may qualify for our discharge upgrade services if they:
- Received a less than honorable discharge from the Armed Forces
- Have a diagnosis of, or exhibit symptoms of, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), traumatic brain injury (TBI), or other mental health condition
If you know of a veteran that needs assistance with a discharge upgrade, or would like more information about this program, please contact the Veterans Consortium Discharge Upgrade Program at email@example.com or by phone at (202) 733-3324.
How Can the Pro Bono Program Support You as a Service Officer?
Here are a few ways that the Pro Bono Program is able to provide support to you as a Veterans Service Officer:
- Provide training about the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims and our Pro Bono Program Services
- Provide our contact information to support you regarding the Court’s appeal processes and our services
- Provide materials and resources:
- Veterans Service Officer Brochure
- Brochure designed to help you with the appeals and referral process
- “How to Appeal” Brochure
- Brochures for the veterans or their loved ones to explain the appeals process and our services, including:
- Instructions on how to file an appeal: http://www.uscourts.cavc.gov/forms_fees.php
- Forms to Apply for our Services
- Informational Videos
- Web videos explaining the appeals process and our services
- Provide articles about our program to listservs or e-newsletters
Thank you for all that you do to support veterans and their families!
We are here to help. If you would like to schedule a time to discuss how we can support you as a veterans service officer regarding appeals to the Court, please contact us at (888) 838-7727 or firstname.lastname@example.org.