Important article on proposed legislation that could help Veterans in need. From my experience, the Army used misconduct separations for too many Soldiers in need of mental health services. Commanders needed to “push out” Soldiers who were considered problems for the unit. Often Soldiers were too worn down to even attempt to fight the misconduct discharge. Hopefully Congress will step up and help those Veterans who deserve increased benefits and recognition for their service.
These Vets Stormed The Capitol To Fight For Service Members The Pentagon Left Behind
That depends! (Don’t you love the lawyery answer?)
Do I need to hire a lawyer?
A lot of veterans call me and say they want to hire me to handle their VA claim. I say, “Wonderful! But have you discussed your claim with a Veterans Service Officer?” VSOs are paid by the county and will help you with the claim for free! I actually can’t accept a fee for helping you with your claim. (And neither can any other lawyer). Always use a VSO or a local service organization to file your claim. It is free, they know what they are doing, and they don’t work for the VA.
When should I hire a lawyer?
You may want to hire a lawyer if your claim is denied by the VA in whole or in part. You have one year from the denial decision to appeal. Please do not wait until the last minute! Act quickly and speak with your VSO about the appeal and what the appeals process will look like. You may want to stick with the VSO or consider hiring a lawyer. I recommend that you, at least, consult with a lawyer who will review your case and advise on whether your appeal may win. Please make sure the lawyer is accredited by the VA!
How much will it cost?
I, like most lawyers, will represent you during VA disability appeal (Board of Veteran Appeals and Court of Appeals for Veteran Claims) for a contingency fee. That means no money down and the lawyer gets paid if you get paid. Typically a lawyer will get %20 of any back pay if they win on appeal. It is the standard fee that the VA recognizes as reasonable. The VA pays the lawyer directly from the back pay amount. Lawyers may charge more but most keep it at %20. VSOs or other service organizations (VFW, American Legion, DAV) may be able to continue to help with your appeal and will not accept a fee.
Not every claimant needs to hire an attorney. I recommend that you speak with the VSO about the appeal and I also suggest that you use an attorney’s free consultation.
Here comes the shameless plug… It just so happens that I represent fellow veterans before the VA so please feel free to reach out and discuss your appeal.
I find it odd that the government would even appeal this decision. I’m sure there are more facts that I do not know but it doesn’t look good when you are looking to crush a servicemember in need of drug treatment.
My only thought at the moment:
The concept of the “broadly skilled judge advocate” doesn’t work when you need learned counsel to represent a Servicemember facing the death penalty.
More to follow. Here is a link to the opinion and other comments from fellow practitioners.
Questions about military law? Before you hit the google machine please check out CAAFlog.
It is a great free resource that tracks all major developments in Military Justice. It also provides links to various other resources and websites.
Other quality blogs…
courtmartialblog.com Bill Cassara
http://www.court-martial-ucmj.com/ Phil Cave
http://www.armycourtmartialdefense.info/ David Coombs
These are the blogs that I use. What else do you recommend for the military justice practitioner?
Are there any groups calling for abolition of the death penalty in the military?
Is there a public concern that a servicemember accused of murder in one of the nineteen states without the death penalty can face execution by the military simply because of military status? For example, SGT X, U.S. Army, allegedly murders V in the state of Maryland while serving on Active Duty. MD abolished the death penalty in 2013. Yet the Army can decide to take the case and refer the charges as capital regardless of actions taken by Maryland.
Is there a concern that four of the six (2/3 according to my lawyer math) inmates sitting on the military’s death row are minorities? Yet less than 1/3 of Active Duty servicemembers identify themselves as a minority (i.e., Black or African American, Asian, American Indian or Alaska Native, Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander, multi-racial, or other/unknown) according to the Department of Defense 2012 Demographics Survey.