What is NOVA?
The National Organization of Veterans’ Advocates (NOVA) is a not-for-profit educational membership and national organization of attorneys and other qualified members who act as advocates for disabled veterans. NOVA hosts two conferences per year, one in the spring and one in the fall, in addition to training webinars throughout the year. The three-day 2019 Spring Conference was held March 21st through March 23rd in Nashville, Tennessee and was intended for both new and experienced Veterans Law practitioners. The conference was designed to increase the knowledge, confidence, and expertise of advocates in representing veterans before the United States Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims (CAVC) and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). The conference involved informational sessions and presentations building from basic to advanced topics in Veterans Law. It also included the following featured speakers: Cheryl Mason, Chairman of the Board of Veterans’ Appeals and David McLenachen, Director, Appeals Management Office, Veterans Benefits Administration.
Five CCK Representatives Deliver Presentations at Spring 2019 Conference
CCK had several team members in attendance, as well as team members presenting educational sessions:
Brad Hennings: “Post-Decisional Motions at the Board of Veterans’ Appeals: Vacatur, Reconsideration, Corrective Orders and Supplemental Decisions”
CCK attorney Brad Hennings delivered a presentation providing an overview of post-decisional motions at the Board of Veterans’ Appeals. This presentation described when it may better serve veterans to file a post-decisional motion at the Board rather than appealing the decision to the Court. In doing so, it addressed the differences between a motion to vacate and a motion for reconsideration. Additionally, the presentation covered a motion for a corrective order, and a motion for a supplemental decision, as well as when a particular motion would be warranted and important elements to include in a pleading.
Barbara Cook: “Recent Court Cases – and How to Use Them”
CCK partner and attorney Barbara Cook’s presentation explained recent cases from both the Federal Circuit and the CAVC, suggesting ways that practitioners can use those at the Regional Office, Board of Veterans’ Appeals, and Court levels. The presentation consisted of 30 cases total, most of which had very short summaries. However, a number of other cases involved more in-depth discussions, including the following:
- Procopio v. Wilkie – holding that veterans who served in the 12-mile territorial waters of Vietnam are presumed exposed to herbicide agents
- Ray v. Wilkie – listing factors for substantially gainful employment
- Worley v. Wilkie – limiting VA’s ability to seek additional evidence
- Hudick v. Wilkie – describing circumstances when VA is bound by its own rules, including those in the M21 Adjudications Manual
- Sellers v. Wilkie – defining the scope of a claim and obligating VA to consider vocational experts’ opinions
Kerry Baker: “Update on Toxic Exposures”
- Exposure to herbicide agents
- Claims based on Southwest Asia service (Persian Gulf War)
- Claims based on environmental exposures in Iraq and Afghanistan
- Exposure to contaminated water at Camp Lejeune
In this presentation, he highlighted the regulations VA uses to adjudicate claims involving military exposures and the common errors that are made when handling these cases.
Robert Chisholm: Moderating “Appeals Reform Panel: Practical Considerations for Advocates”
CCK founding partner and attorney Robert Chisholm moderated a panel of long-term practitioners regarding the Appeals Modernization Act and the practical impact it will have on VA attorneys and agents. The panel fielded questions from the 400 plus attendees. One of the biggest takeaways from the panel is that everyone has questions about how the Appeals Modernization Act will work.
Zachary Stolz: Closing Remarks
CCK partner and attorney Zachary Stolz concluded the Spring 2019 Conference by delivering the closing remarks.