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New partnership means free legal representation for eligible Michigan veterans in high-level VA appeals cases


A new partnership between the Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency (MVAA) and the National Veterans Legal Services Program (NVLSP) will mean free legal representation for Michigan veterans and their families in appeals before the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims.

“Michigan veterans will now have access to an unprecedented level of representation by a national legal team who will defend their rights at the highest legal levels, to ensure fairness in the disability benefit arena,” said Zaneta Adams, director of the MVAA, which serves as the central coordinating agency for Michigan’s 550,000-plus veterans.

“In addition,” Adams said, “our veteran advocates will capitalize on NVLSP’s extensive training and professional development portfolio as we continue to serve Michigan veterans and their families, now and in the future.”

NVLSP is a national nonprofit organization that works to ensure the government delivers to America’s 22 million veterans and active-duty personnel the benefits to which they are entitled because of disabilities resulting from their military service to our country.

"We are delighted to partner with the Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency and we look forward to leveraging our shared knowledge to help Michigan veterans and their families access the benefits to which they are entitled,” said NVLSP Executive Director Paul Wright.

When disability claims are denied by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), veterans have the right to appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims (CAVC). The CAVC provides veterans an impartial judicial forum for review of administrative decisions by the Board of Veterans' Appeals that are adverse to the veteran’s claim of entitlement to benefits for service-connected disabilities, survivor benefits and other benefits such as education payments and waiver of indebtedness.

Through the new partnership, NVLSP will provide free legal representation in support of appeals cases. This process begins when NVLSP reviews a case in which a veteran’s appeal to the Board of Veterans’ Appeals (BVA), the highest authority within the VA, is denied and determines there are grounds for an appeal to the CAVC. When this is the case, NVLSP offers to represent the veteran or the veteran’s family at no cost. The partnership between the MVAA and NVLSP makes this free legal service available to veterans in Michigan for the first time.

In addition to NVLSP’s assistance to veterans with claims appeals, NVLSP will also assist Michigan veterans with discharge upgrades, which will help veterans access benefits they may be wrongfully denied due to a less than honorable discharge.