(M-VETS Student-Advisors Megan Huppee (left) and Samantha Lewis (right))
The Antonin Scalia Law School Mason Veterans and Servicemembers Legal Clinic (“M-VETS”) secured Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA) disability compensation for a retired U.S. Air Force veteran for his service in Vietnam. M-VETS argued in a brief before the DVA that the veteran was entitled to service connection and disability payments for a condition presumptively caused by exposure to Agent Orange during the veteran’s service in Vietnam.
The veteran served in Vietnam during the Tet Offensive but the veteran’s service record did not reflect his boots-on-the-ground service in Vietnam. It is necessary to show a veteran had boots on the ground service in Vietnam in order to service connect certain medical conditions which the DVA considers are presumptively related to exposure to Agent Orange in Vietnam. M-VETS produced sufficient evidence to establish the veteran’s service in Vietnam. The DVA recognized the veteran’s Vietnam Campaign Medal, Vietnam Service Medal, squadron history, and the client’s recollection of events and granted disability compensation for conditions related to exposure to Agent Orange.
“I am glad our client reached out to us for assistance as proving boots on the ground service many years after the fact can be challenging,” said M-VETS Director Timothy MacArthur. “I would like to thank the U.S. Air Force archivist who was able to provide us an extensive unit history for our client’s squadron. This history showed the squadron’s frequent travel into and out of Vietnam during the time our client was in that squadron. Along with our client’s recitation of events, we were able to use this information to prove boots on the ground service in Vietnam which entitled our client to receive service connection and disability payments for several disabilities related to exposure to Agent Orange,” MacArthur said.
MacArthur continued, “I would also like to thank the two M-VETS student-advisors who worked on this matter from the beginning of the case until the end. Megan Huppee and Samantha Lewis did an outstanding job assisting our client and their hard work enabled our client to receive a positive outcome in a timely manner.” “I am so honored to be able assist this veteran and others with the clinic. Being a part of M-VETS has been the most rewarding part of my law school career,” Huppee stated. Huppee continued, “this case was a team effort, and I value the time I spent working with Samantha Lewis and Professor MacArthur.”
“I am so appreciative of [the student’s] professionalism and their tremendous work. I am so thankful for the clinic’s help throughout the whole process,” said the veteran. The veteran continued, “I am honored that the [DVA] finally recognized my service in Vietnam.”
M-VETS provides free legal representation to active-duty servicemembers, veterans and their dependents while offering law students the opportunity to receive supervised, practical legal experience by advocating for those who serve or have served in our 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.