Inverted_JennyIf you or I made a high-dollar mistake at work, a “clear and unmistakable error,” we might expect some consequences. That’s not at all the case with “Clear and Unmistakable Error” (CUE) actions committed by benefits claims examiners at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

Far from any remedial or disciplinary action for committing a CUE, as far as we can tell, nothing happens at VA.  Since there is no consequence to employees for errors, do not expect errors to be acknowledged or corrected. Continue reading

Clinicians_in_Intensive_Care_UnitMany people assume new illnesses, aches, and pains are “normal.”   Just part of aging.  Simply bad luck.  Or even genetics.  Veterans should not be lulled into passive acceptance of this so-called common wisdom.  Diet and exercise can only get you so far with the many health problems – some tremendously serious – which may be the result of your military service.  In addition, some health issues, such as birth defects, may be results of military service that affect not only you but your entire family. Continue reading

Street RatsWith many people moving to Texas, it’s a good idea to review some common Texas landlord-tenant scenarios. As a renter, what are your rights if the landlord retaliates in response to your reasonable request to have something fixed?

Renters’ Rights in Texas

The Texas Property Code, at Title 8, Chapter 92, Subchapter H, discusses retaliation by a landlord against a tenant.  Tenants (also referred to in this article as “renters”) are entitled to notify landlords of problems with the rented space and to request repairs, to submit good-faith complaints to relevant government entities about the rented property, and to make good-faith attempts to pursue rights and remedies against a landlord. Continue reading

SmartIf the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) denies your request for benefits, don’t be shocked.  If VA gives you a lower disability rating than you merit, don’t be shocked. Since 2014, in an effort to reduce its backlog of disability benefits claims, word is that VA is simply shoveling responses out the door.  Many are complete denials.  Some are just sloppy, giving you “something” (a low disability rating) in the hope you will be happy and go away.

When VA denies your request or offers a deceptively low rating, don’t be shocked: be smart!  Seek legal advice and promptly file a Notice of Disagreement (NOD). Continue reading

Veteran_Affairs_backlog_(2012-08-09)Until Veterans are treated like full U.S. citizens with the right to representation by an attorney, we can only celebrate Veterans Day once a year.  Here’s why.

Only under limited circumstances are Veterans are allowed to use an attorney to represent them on appeals from denial of benefits by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).  In fact, prior to 2006, Veterans weren’t allowed to use an attorney at all when dealing with VA. Continue reading

Homeless_Veteran_in_New_YorkWith the extremely long delay in obtaining benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), many Veterans face tremendous and crippling medical bills.  These bills impact ability to pay for necessities, including rent, utilities, transportation, and even food.


Threats and constant calls from creditors and even advice from attorneys not familiar with Veterans benefits matters may push Veterans to make unwise decisions regarding their VA benefits.  It’s very simple:  VA benefits are protected from creditors, taxation, and other legal processes.  No one is entitled to just take your benefits away to pay off debts. Continue reading


How an Attorney Can Help You

With car repairs, how do you know if any law has been broken?  It’s not as difficult as one might think.  Auto repair is just another type of service.  Auto repair in Texas is subject to the Texas Business and Commerce Code, Title 2 (Competition and Trade Practices), Chapter 17 (Deceptive Trade Practices) also referred to as the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act, or “DTPA.”  Among other things, under Section 17.46 (Deceptive Trade Practices Unlawful), it is unlawful to “knowingly make false or misleading statements of fact concerning the need for parts, replacement, or repair service.” Continue reading

Graduate_The new economic reality places a higher premium than ever on high-school diplomas and undergraduate degrees.  For that reason, Veterans are exploring educational opportunities, and not merely traditional community college or four-year institutions. Increasingly, Veterans are looking for education programs which provide hard, immediately useful skills.

To assist Veterans, the Federal government offers an array of programs for active-duty military and Veterans, including the Post-9/11 GI Bill.  States also provide assistance, with Texas offering generous support through plans such as the Hazlewood Act.  Despite the many state and Federal education options available, a large number of Veterans still have to rely on private student loans.  Given the tough job market, even degrees and trade skills do not translate to liveable salaries the way they once did.  This means a large number of Veterans have education-related debts, particularly loans, they simply can’t pay. Continue reading

Hickey_AlisonThen-Secretary for the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), Eric Shinseki, resigned in May 2014 after a shocking season of revelations regarding Veteran deaths at the hands of VA.  Last month, on October 16, 2015, VA Under Secretary for Benefits, Allison Hickey (pictured), resigned in the wake of a pay fraud scandal involving senior bureaucrats Diana Rubens and Kim Graves.

Rubens and Graves – ironically – were put in place by Hickey in 2014 to clean up following the international news coverage of Veteran deaths and VA’s back-log of benefits claims.  World-wide exposure of VA’s actions highlighted the shameful treatment U.S. Veterans suffer at the hands of the very agency that supposedly is dedicated to Veterans’ well-being. Continue reading

Archive photo of the 1973 NPRC Fire

Archive photo of the 1973 NPRC Fire

The National Archives tells the story.  On July 12, 1973, a fire at the National Personnel Records Center (NPRC) destroyed approximately 16-18 million Official Military Personnel Files (OMPF).

To its credit, the National Archives views the 1973 fire as an “unparalleled disaster” and a “loss to the cultural heritage of our nation.”   Acknowledging the tragedy, the National Archives has gone to extensive lengths to reconstruct the destroyed service files.  In the years since the fire, the NPRC has collected numerous series of records (referred to as Auxiliary Records) that are used to reconstruct basic service information in lieu of an OMPF.   Continue reading

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