(Pictured Katie Stegmuller and David Kaplan)
In March of 2019, the Antonin Scalia Law School Mason Veterans and Servicemembers Legal Clinic (“M-VETS”) secured Dependency and Indemnity Compensation for the surviving spouse of a Vietnam veteran. M-VETS Student Advisors Katie Stegmuller and David Kaplan assisted the surviving spouse in the preparation and submission of this claim. The initial award for the surviving spouse totaled almost $13,000.00 in back pay with an additional monthly award of $1,300.00. The monthly payment will continue for the rest of the surviving spouse’s lifetime.
The clients spouse was a Vietnam veteran who served honorably in the United States Air Force as an Aerospace Ground Equipment Repairman from January 14, 1964 until September 15, 1967. Notably, while on active duty the veteran earned the Vietnam Service Medal with one Bronze Service Star, Republic of Vietnam Commendation Medal, and the National Defense Service Medal. Unfortunately, the veteran passed away in 2016 due to metastatic lung cancer. The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) presumes certain disabilities are caused by military service. In this matter, the veteran served in the Republic of Vietnam between January 9, 1962, and May 7, 1975, and it is presumed the veteran was exposed to Agent Orange during that period of time, which caused the metastatic lung cancer.
“I am truly grateful for all the hard work the students put into my matter and humbled by their selfless giving. I can’t wait until they become attorneys, I will be so proud,” said the surviving spouse. Student Advisor Katie Stegmuller commented, “Working with our client has been an absolute joy, and I am pleased to have helped our client secure DIC benefits by filing a fully developed claim. Our client has been exceptionally grateful and positive throughout M-VETS representation, long before we heard the good news from the VA.”
“Katie and David did a great job for our client in this matter,” Timothy MacArthur, M-VETS Director said. “The circumstances of why our client sought out the assistance of M-VETS are certainly sorrowful, the death of a beloved spouse. Our student advisors are always mindful of these circumstances and they try their best to provide any assistance they can to make the situation a little brighter. In this matter, we were able to secure some financial assistance for our client which should help out in the years to come.”
M-VETS mission is to provide free legal representation to active-duty members of the armed forces, veterans, and their families while offering law students the opportunity to receive supervised, practical legal experience by advocating for those who serve or have served in our United States armed forces. M-VETS provides representation in a variety of matters including Virginia civil litigation matters, uncontested divorces, consumer protection matters, wills and powers of attorney, as well as assisting with matters before the VA and various administrative boards, including discharge upgrades, record corrections, military pay and entitlement matters, and VA disability benefit appeals.