The Antonin Scalia Law School Mason Veterans and Servicemembers Legal Clinic (“M-VETS”) secured $123,000.00 in Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA) disability compensation for a veteran due to 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.
Though the veteran served in Vietnam, his service record did not reflect his boots-on-the-ground service in Vietnam or in the associated territorial waters. It is necessary to show a veteran had boots-on-the-ground service in Vietnam or in the associated territorial waters in order to service-connect certain medical conditions that the DVA considers presumptively related to exposure to Agent Orange.
The veteran initially filed the claim for disability in 2010 and, after being continuously denied by the DVA for seven (7) years, sought out the assistance of M-VETS. M-VETS was able to simultaneously prepare and submit a brief to correct the veteran’s military records before the Air Force Board for Correction of Military Records (ABCMR) to show boots-on-the-ground service in Vietnam and also submit a Motion for Reconsideration before the Board of Veterans’ Appeals (BVA) to keep the original service-connection date open for retroactive pay purposes.
“I am glad our client reached out to us for assistance, as proving boots on the ground service after many years can be challenging and this is one of the most challenging matters that M-VETS has assisted with,” said M-VETS Director Timothy MacArthur. “The veteran had initially filed a claim for DVA disability compensation in 2010 and contacted M-VETS in 2017 after being continuously denied by the DVA for disability benefits. The veteran had already testified under oath during a BVA hearing attesting to his service in Vietnam, but for unknown reasons the DVA still denied his benefits. Along with our client’s recitation of events, we were able to convince the AFBCMR to issue a correction to the veteran’s records to indicate that he had boots-on-the-ground service in Vietnam. Once we were able to correct the military records with the AFBCMR, we were able to convince the DVA that our client was entitled to service-connection for his disability. Currently, our client is considered 100% disabled and will receive a monthly payment of approximately $3,300.00 for the rest of his life. We are continuing to litigate this client’s DVA claim, but we are excited that we were able to place our veteran in this position,” MacArthur said.
“I am totally beyond words,” said the veteran. “The congratulations belong to you and your law students, for the work you and they did regarding my VA claim. My hat is off to you and your students. Thanks to you and your students I don’t feel left behind anymore.”
“We have been working to resolve this issue since 2017, so many student-advisors were able to assist with this veteran’s matter and gain invaluable legal experience while in M-VETS,” explained MacArthur. “I am really pleased with the outcome and want to thank our student-advisors for the wonderful job they did on this matter, as well as our client for working with us the last five years.”
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.