March / April 2009
BY JERRY KLEIN, CHAIR
The Veterans Benefits Committee reviewed the committee resolutions that remain on the books. A subcommittee has made recommendations for modification of some resolutions and retirement of others. VB-2-95, VB-3-95, VB-4-95, VB-15-95, VB-16-95, and VB-17-01 have been recommended for retirement.
The Veterans Disability Benefits Commission may have addressed VB-6-95 and so we will work with members of Congress on legislation to refine, rewrite, or make changes in VA disability ratings. VB-5-95 still needs work and will remain active. VB-8-95 remains viable. The committee is looking to combine resolutions VB-7-95 and VB-10-95 and VB-10-95 and VB-11-95. VB-13-95 deals with VVA making service representation our No. 1 priority. More work is required to accomplish this goal.
VB-1-95 Judicial Review: Until the new law, which only partially removed the fee limit and which created the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims, is further amended, the resolution remains viable.
VB-2-95 Boards of Correction of Military Records: We recommend that this resolution be retired. It is a no-win resolution that will never be accepted by Congress. VVA would do better by putting together a simple brochure on how to correct military records and make it available for membership and for outreach.
VB-3-95 Less-Than-Honorable Administrative Discharges: We recommend that this be retired. This also is a no-win resolution that will never be accepted by Congress. VVA would do better in putting together a brochure on administrative upgrade discharges (which are also covered in the Veterans Benefits Manual for service reps) and have it available for membership and for outreach.
VB-4-95 DVA Overpayments: This resolution should be retired because of the enactment of the Debt Collection Improvement Act of 1999, as well as the Debt Management Center on the VA web page, which seems to be reaching out to veterans with information about their rights when a debt is owed to the federal government. You can’t hide from Uncle Sam.
VB-5-95 Civil Liberties of Active-Duty Military Personnel: This resolution should be retired or revised. We do not know how many Vietnam veterans are still on active duty since this resolution was adopted in 1995. If it is not retired, perhaps it can be rewritten and updated for current veterans on active duty.
VB-6-95 Just Compensation for Injuries Sustained by Active-Duty Military Personnel: This is perhaps an issue that can be brought to the attention of the Veterans Disability Benefits Commission, which is studying disability compensation and will be making recommendations to Congress and the President. However, we need considerable research to shape and support our contention that this remains a significant problem for veterans.
VB-7-95 Class Actions at U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims: Before the Veterans Judicial Review Act was enacted, VVA was able to help veterans in the federal courts by filing class-action lawsuits. The Act is silent on such cases, and the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims provides no rules for class-action lawsuits. Combine with VB-9-95.
VB-8-95 VA Implementation of Decisions Rendered by the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims: This resolution remains viable.
VB-9-95 Veterans Benefits and Services: Combine with VB-11-95.
VB-12-95 VA Service-Connected Disability Compensation Payments and Military Retirement Pay Offset: This resolution needs to be updated to take into account congressional action to phase in concurrent receipt for a segment of career veterans. This resolution also can be augmented or replaced with a new one that takes into account SBP/DIC.
VB-13-95 Preservation of VVA Service Representation at the National Level: Although the rendering of claims remains woefully untimely, this resolution is woefully dated.
VB-14-95 Attorney Representation at the VA: Recent legislation allows this resolution to be retired pending implementation of the rules of practice set to be published this spring or summer. This resolution was challenged in Congress in 2007, in the form of a bill, H.R. 1318, which would have repealed the authority for agent or attorney representation in Veterans Benefits cases before the Department of Veterans Affairs. VVA remains opposed to this bill.
VB-15-95 Veterans and Hepatitis C: This should be retired, as it is a duplicate of G-7-99. Despite VVA support of legislation that would make hepatitis C presumptive for service-connection, it is highly unlikely that Congress will mandate the VA to grant service-connection for this disease. It also is highly unlikely that the VA will act unilaterally on this.
VB-16-99 Copy of Military Records Upon Discharge: The Department of Defense FY2007 authorization has language requesting that all service members receive electronic copies of all of their military records upon discharge. This resolution therefore should be retired.
VB-17-01 Criminal Background Check for Incompetent Veterans: VVA should consider retiring this resolution. Since it was passed, it has not been an active issue, and it’s highly doubtful that the VA or the FBI will take any action seven years after the fact.
Please send suggestions to the Veterans Benefits Department to John Margowski at firstname.lastname@example.org and to me, Jerry Klein, at email@example.com
The Veterans Benefits Committee: Jerry Klein, Chair; Rich Levesque, Vice Chair. Members: Paul Richards, Marshall Mudge, Pat Pudetti, Joe Kristek, Joe Jennings, Butch Huber, Peter Bessigano, Sandie Wilson, John Margowski, Jim Pace, and Dick Southern. Special Advisors: Nancy Switzer and Kathleen Aylward. Staff Contact: David Houppert.