The President just signed the "Veterans Appeals Improvement and Modernization Act", but how will it affect the hundreds of thousands of Veterans that are currently waiting on their claims to be decided? The answer seems to be convoluted, much like the entire VA system.
The new "Act" is going to apply mainly to only newly-filed appeals, and NOT the existing backlog of over 470,000 appeals.
The "Act" does create three different "lanes" for veteran appeals. One of these lanes is a "Local Higher Level Review" in which a Regional Office adjudicator reviews all the same evidence considered by the original claims processor and may come to a different opinion. Right now there is confusion on exactly how this is different than the "old" method of filing a "Notice of Disagreement" following the initial decision. Before the new "Act" was signed, once a NOD was filed, a Regional Office Decision Review Officer would re-examine all the evidence and then issue a "Statement of the Case" and the appealed issues were either resolved in the favor of the veteran, or the veteran would then appeal to the Board of Veterans Appeals.
The "Act" also created a "lane" in which the veteran can just submit "new evidence" for review and have a hearing on the claim at the local level. This also was allowed under the "old" Act.
Finally, the new "Act" creates the "Board Lane" which is really just the appeal process to the Board of Veterans Appeals (BVA). This new "lane" supposedly does away with the need to file a Notice of Disagreement, and instead the veteran can just file his Appeal directly to the BVA.
If everything works out as intended, then the new "Act" might indeed save some veterans at least a couple of years on their appeal, but then again, it is up to the VA to implement the new "Act" and we will just have to wait and see how that goes.
If you were injured, or a family member was killed in Iraq between 2004 and 2011 by "Shi'a Special Groups" or Iranian-supplied devices, you may be eligible to join the legal battle to hold Iran and its agents responsible for their actions.
Lawsuits are currently being brought under the Anti-Terrorism Act and the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, and you may be able to join.
More than 1,000 U.S. servicemen and women were killed or injured by Iranian designed and manufactured improvised explosive devices (IED's), and there have been hundreds of attacks found to be caused by Iranian-designed explosively formed penetrators (EFP's) and improvised rocket-assisted munitions (IRAMs). There is evidence available concerning Iran's role in targeting Americans in the Middle East and its secret supply chains and money laundering activities.
A major lawsuit has been brought on behalf of families of fallen service members, wounded veterans, and American military contractors and their families, against many banks that helped Iran secretly launder hundreds of billions of dollars through the U.S. Some lawsuits even target Iranian state instrumentalities that helped to fund Iran in its many terrorist operations against our troops.
In 1992, the U.S. passed the Anti-Terrorism Act which allows victims to file lawsuits against financiers of terrorist groups. The Anti-Terrorism Act states that any U.S. citizen (or other "national") may sue for injuries that were “by reason of an act of international terrorism.”
Anti-Terrorism Act veterans lawsuits are civil lawsuits, not criminal. Anti-Terrorism Act veterans lawsuits are based on this statement within the Act: “Any national of the United States injured in his or her person, property, or business by reason of an act of international terrorism, or his or her estate, survivors, or heirs, may sue therefor in any appropriate district court of the United States and shall recover threefold the damages he or she sustains and the cost of the suit, including attorney’s fees.”
While "Shi'a Special Groups" are certainly targeted by the most recent lawsuits, other organizations such as Hezbollah, the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, Iran's Qods, and Sunni Terrorist Groups may also be tied to the Iran funded terrorist acts.
While there are many different injuries that have resulted from IED/EFP/IRAM's, the following are most common:
It appears that Congress did at least get something done before their regular recess. On Friday they passed 3 measures related to the Veterans Administration.
In the First bill passed, the Congress has sent to the President a Bill which they say is intended to shorten the Appeals process for veterans. Unfortunately, it looks like this Bill is really nothing to be overly thrilled about. In return for waiving the right to a hearing AND the right to present new evidence, the veteran would receive what they are calling an "express" appeal process. What this really means, no-one knows. It could mean that instead of taking anywhere from 2-5 years to get a decision on your appeal, it might only take 1-3....but again, we just don't know. What we do know is that the veteran is expected to give up some very important rights just to maybe get a quicker decision.
Most appeals are won due to the ability to present more evidence AND to appear in front of a hearing Judge so that a face is put with a number. I would not advise any veteran to elect this "express" appeal process until we learn more.
The Second Bill has to do with reducing some of the existing restrictions on the GI Bill.
The Third Bill addresses the current Budget shortfall in the so-called "Choice" program that in theory allows veterans to seek private health care paid for by the VA when the normal VA Medical Center wait times are too long. This Bill supplies 3.9 Billion dollars to keep the program funded.
More info to come as it becomes available......