Veterans Benefits Committee Update July/August 2021

BY JOHN H. RILING III, CHAIR

The following information was written by Alec Ghezzi, the Training Advising Attorney in the VVA Veterans Benefits Department, for the Michigan State Council VSO program. The new training and software he describes will be available for all VVA VSOs across the nation. It is currently being used in Michigan and Massachusetts.

“One of VVA’s most important missions is ensuring that our nation’s veterans have access to the best VA claims assistance possible. That is why VVA’s National Veterans Benefits Program has invested in cutting edge virtual training software to ensure that all of our Veteran Service Officers have access to the latest information and tools.

“Our Learning Management Software (LMS) is a one-stop shop for all of our VSOs’ needs when it comes to learning about veterans law, VA’s systems and databases, and effectively advocating for clients.

“VVA has a team of attorneys that reviews new precedential cases relevant to veterans when they are handed down by the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims, the Federal Circuit, and the U.S. Supreme Court.

“The courts’ decisions are summarized and seamlessly integrated into our LMS. A similar process exists for new regulations promulgated by VA.

“Prospective VSOs are invited to take a series of courses that are part of our Pre-Accreditation Training. They are designed to provide foundational knowledge about our organization and the role of VSOs, as well as set clear expectations for fulfilling the duties of a VA-accredited claims representative.

“Once this is complete and the accreditation paperwork is processed by VA, VSOs are required to complete Post-Accreditation Training.

“This training provides substantive knowledge in the areas of veterans’ law that our VSOs are most likely to encounter and empowers them to begin assisting veterans immediately. Each course includes modules that present information either as text or video. VVA has contracted with NVLSP, the leader in veterans’ law education, to supplement content produced by VVA national staff.

“Assessments are provided throughout to ensure that training content is being absorbed by learners. VVA national attorney staff are available for one-on-one training and Q&A sessions, as needed.

“Although VA only requires re-accreditation every five years, VVA provides ongoing training for VSOs at regular intervals. Our LMS includes Advanced Training courses for more experienced VSOs.

“In addition to training materials, our LMS supports the inclusion of Additional References in our courses, where learners can download handouts and sample arguments. For example, we included a walk-through on how to search through Navy deck logs and prove that a veteran served within the area established by the Blue Water Navy Act.”

Our Veterans Benefits Department is setting the standard on how veterans of all ages are being helped. I thank Alec Ghezzi and Felicia Mullaney for taking the next step in helping all veterans.


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