NOVA Veterans Advocates Meet In Las Vegas

Veterans Advocates

Veterans advocates belonging to National Organization for Veterans Advocates (NOVA) are meeting in sunny Las Vegas for its semi-annual conference starting today.

I am a NOVA member and will be presenting on the traumatic brain injury scandal readers have been learning about over the past year on this website and through coverage from KARE 11 News in Minneapolis. Numerous other attorneys and other professionals will be presenting over the next three days including attorney Chris Attig, founder of Veterans Law Blog.

For a little background, NOVA is an organization that educates lawyers and non-lawyers about the Department of Veterans Affairs and its numerous veterans benefits programs with a primary focus on disability compensation. The organization has been in existence for over 20 years.


Here is what NOVA says about NOVA on its website:

The National Organization of Veterans Advocates, Inc. (NOVA) was incorporated in the District of Columbia as a not-for-profit educational membership organization in 1993.

NOVA was created by its founders to provide support and organization for the private bar representing veterans in their disability claims against VA. Their vision for NOVA was set forth in its early bylaws:

  • To develop through research, discussion, and the exchange of information a better understanding of federal veterans benefits law and procedure;
  • To develop and encourage high standards of service and representation for all persons seeking benefits through the federal veterans benefits system and in particular those seeking judicial review of denials of veterans benefits;
  • To conduct and cooperate in the conduct of courses of study for the benefit of its members and others desiring to represent persons seeking benefits through the federal veterans benefits system;
  • To provide opportunity for the exchange of experience and opinions through discussion, study, and publications; and
  • To do all and everything related to the above and in general to have all the powers conferred upon a corporation by the District of Colombia.

Over the next decade, NOVA made this vision a reality by holding training workshops for new practitioners, providing a forum for networking via its online bulletin board, presenting expert testimony before Congress, and authoring amicus briefs to the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims (CAVC), Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC), and Supreme Court.

In 2000, the CAVC recognized NOVA’s work on behalf of veterans with the Hart T. Mankin Distinguished Service Award.

Through its strong D.C. presence, NOVA has worked with VA, CAVC, and Senate and House members to discuss a variety of pressing issues relevant to our practitioners and veterans alike. Via telephone calls, written correspondence, individual meetings, and expert testimony, NOVA has connected with those on Capitol Hill to affect positive reform measures. Our efforts for change in Title 38 United States Code (USC) 5904 regarding attorney fees for representation of veterans reflect one such achievement.

In December 2006, Congress repealed the law that prohibited attorneys from charging a fee for representing veterans in the VA claims process. The Veterans Benefits, Health Care, and Information Technology Act of 2006 (Section 101 of Public Law 109-461) took effect on June 20, 2007. The new law amended Chapter 59 of Title 38, USC, governing the recognition of individuals for the preparation, presentation, and prosecution of claims for benefits before VA. The rule change allowed attorneys to represent veterans much earlier in the claims process, and permitted them to charge reasonable fees for the representation.

Today, NOVA brings unmatched expertise to the field of veterans advocacy, and takes pride in its many significant accomplishments. These include the Pro Bono Advocates Program, an Advocate Referral Service, semi-annual Continuing Legal Education (CLE) seminars, a new website for members and veterans, and liaisons with VA, CAVC, legislature, service organizations, and bar associations.

In April 2013, NOVA marked its 20th Anniversary at the Spring Conference in Washington, D.C.


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  1. Please excuse that this is a little off topic. However, I saw the comment where the candy man was now in private practice. This after supposedly causing patient’s deaths because of over prescribing of opiates.

    On our local news last night, it was reported a doctor in private practice was sentenced to 7 1/2 to 15 years in prison for running a pill mill where one person died of an overdose.

    This is what needs to happen to the doctors in the VA who commit these crimes instead of putting them on paid leave for months and then just seeing them transferred to another VA or open up a private practice. It proves the VA just doesn’t give a hoot or a holler about vets.

    1. I thought I read somewhere that the state had finally stepped in and investigated somewhat at Tomah before he was fired.

      I would be shocked if he was about to continue as a licensed professional in WI, and even more shocked if he still had prescriptive rights.

      Again, if I lived in WI, I would be calling the state to find out if he is applying for a license there, or operating without one. His license is from Iowa.

  2. Bob…
    Jim Strickland is still writing about Veterans on VA Watchdog. However, this website has mostly deteriorated into a platform for his left wing political idealogy, so most Vets dont bother anymore.

  3. “Wounded Warrior Project’s top execs reportedly fired amid lavish spending scandal”


    1. Does anyone know what the statement “accepts Medicaid, Medicare and other types of insurances”, means on The Candy Mans from Tomah new website?

      I know that Healthnet administers the Medicare program, Medicaid program and the Choice Program in Wisconsin.


      1. Robin Mitch,

        regarding Richard L. Roudebush VAMC in Indianapolis their websites’ front page displays the following>

        Hospitals Institute Visitor Restrictions

        Your VA Medical Center is instituting a temporary visitor restriction policy beginning Friday, March 11.

        This follows instructions to VA and our health care colleagues across the metropolitan area. The Indianapolis Coalition for Patient Safety has issued this request in response to a large increase in flu activity in the past three weeks. All major health care systems in Indianapolis have agreed to implement Tier 1 protocols of the coalition’s Patient Visitor Policy. The coalition will regularly assess the county’s flu data/trends to determine when to lift the restrictions.

        Tier 1 requirements include:
        * restricting visitors with symptoms of influenza;
        * restricting visitors under age 18;
        * restricting patient visitors to the immediate family identified by the patient

      2. It means he will accept Medicaid or Medicare as payment for treatment, along with other insurance like maybe a state aid program.
        Or he could accept referrals from Healthnet.
        Question is, is he dumb enough to practice without a license? Or is he claiming he is only providing a service that doesn’t require a license.
        Wisconsins web site for looking up licenses is such a disaster, it’s hard to say if he has a license or not.

      3. He shows up as having been licensed in Iowa, but his current license status there shows it is inactive.
        If I were still a Wisconsin resident, I would be calling the state and asking why he is practicing there without a license.
        Interesting to see vitals dot com already updated with his new address.

    2. Here’s a better link on news story about firing of top two Wounded Warrior Thieves: Remove quotations in front/back for latest news 4 minutes max:


      These two will probably slide right into an upper management VA Job in no time…just wait for it…

      1. Namibor,

        Nice Link.

        But your comment about how the VA will hire them I would like to add that is if they already don’t work for the VA. In my area it seems that the supposed veterans assistance agencies are headed by VA employees on the VA payroll.

  4. “NOVA” really sounds like a great organization.
    Here’s a question. They, or someone, could answer.
    How come every state doesn’t have a person, or persons, like Ben Krause (with a website like Ben’s) addressing veterans issues?
    I know Ben does address other states. Yet, it seems only within certain areas or states.
    I’d like to see what’s being done to show VA’s ineptitude in all 50 states.
    I know, we on here, give articles about the VA’s in our own states. Yet, I don’t see the “word getting out in mass!”
    Just think if millions vs thousands were to see and read articles about the egregious acts committed against veterans by VA employees! Wouldn’t that put a crimp in their pants! That would be so great!

    I hope y’all understand my thought on this. Ben does a terrific and great job. I just believe it should be expanded!
    Can you imagine, Hundreds, or possibly a few thousand, of attorneys nationwide, all connected to each other. Each one having “links” on what’s occuring in each state! Every attorney letting veterans know what’s happening in their area. So, when a vet goes to a VAMC, those employees can’t say, “I didn’t know about that!” like a little brat caught with his hand in the cookie jar!

    What do y’all think?

    1. @crazyelf-

      If you recall, a few times on here, so-called attorney vet advocates have posted and as recent as a week ago, recall the one stating the glaring facts of WHY to your question…it’s all about the $$$ and getting ‘paid’ for most, not all, and I get it that a person needs to make a living….but it pisses me off to no end when such people only do Veteran “Pro Bono” work, and the minimum required at that, to simply be a ‘tax-write-off/charity’ at end of year.

      We need to CLONE BENAMIN!!!! Or…at least 100 like-minded Veteran Advocate Attorneys for distribution/coverage of all 50 States.

      I like your thinking, elf. Having a really rough spell with my gut stuff week. Not fun. It also does not help that issues involving crap with the VA fills me with the urge to defecate in the way only severe IBS can…not fun.

    2. Thanks Elf. Here are my two cents.

      Some states are just “louder” than others when it comes to being in the news. Covering other states would take a ton of work without staff to do the work. Some veterans have volunteered to help but few if any are able to stick with it with any consistency. As far as I know, myself, Chris Attig and Alexander Graham (ASKNOD) are the only veterans and advocates who write on a regular basis.

      I wanted to set up a nationwide audit system for every VA location, but it would take a substantial amount of funding for a huge staff. This website itself isn’t free to run, host and develop, so we would need some deep pockets to create a staff that could support such an endeavor.

      To give some perspective, VA has a public relations budget of over $25 million each year. My budget is around $7,000 per year on just IT costs for the website, and sales of the book barely cover those expenses. I’ll need a significant boost to afford a team to develop out such a system. Until veterans start voting with their pocket book and realize that nothing is free, we are limited to what some of us can pull together on a shoe string budget.

      1. If the rumors are true, Indianapolis may be in the middle of an “audit” as we speak.

        Multiple people have told me suits with credentials are there.

      2. I was at a PT appointment Monday. There were guys there doing a pre-inspection. The therapist said the inspectors were in Salt Lake City and were heading for Grand Junction next. He seemed surprised they had been delayed in SLC…as if something was taking longer.

      3. I’m shocked you can do that on $7k.
        As for your plan to audit VAs, is that something you could possibly train other veterans to do?

      4. Ben why are we just finding out about the NOVA conference i live in Vegas and could have paid to come as a advocate, 2 weekends ago went to an NDVS state of Nevada Advocates conference but mostly some good info but alot of VA reps just giving up general informantion im kinda liking being an advocate but not the illiteracy of some vets sadly, and its sad cause they just give up learning or even giving a dam.

    3. Remember half or more than half wont get on the fucking computer to save their life, they usually use the same tired ass reason my wife or my kid does that for me when all they do is sit at home and watch tel-lie-vision til their eyelids close or till the next VA appt. Its falls back on the illiteracy rate of alot of the Armed Forces and dont really see a need or desire to improve on it…

      1. In all my years in the USAF, I *never* experienced Service Members that were “illiterate, as you state”, and I think rather ranting about any particular Veteran’s “intelligence”, as an advocate or human, how about approaching this with more empathy and never assuming *anything*, as you do not know if given Vet is suffering from residuals, medications, you name it…and as an advocate, how about taking time to help Vets help themselves by showing them resources/local libraries/community centers, that all of which, provide computer introduction/instruction for free…rather than blanket statements that demeans Vets as “illiterate”.

        Also consider changing YOUR approach and pocketing your bias, as it appears IMHO that it is impeding your effectiveness.

        Sorry for apparent ‘rant’. I just get ruffled when generalizations and labels are placed on fellow Brothers.

      2. I was also stationed for a few years at a Naval Air Station with Sea Bees on floor below we USAF, and USAF Pararescue above us. There were also Marines stationed there, but only on a rotating 6 month to year max, so that’s -3- Branches of NOT “illiterate Servicemembers” in my long experience. Just saying.

  5. I noticed on a few comments that the posters were all from Indianapolis. I have heard some very interesting rumors this week about the VARO.

    Anyone at the NOVA conference hearing some very encouraging stuff?

    Lord knows if true, they have plenty to dig through.

  6. Mr Krause, Wishing you the very best in Las Vegas. I was critically injured (civilian job-driving instructor) My cranial region was so swollen it wouldn’t fit into the collar for a cat scan. MRI was used instead. Now I cant have MRIs due to the metal the docs had to put in my head. Recent medical records report me neurologically sound. By the way back in 1990 I applied twice for soc sec disability and was turned down. No one told me it was a gov game wherein you had to go for the big three. I was awarded $40,000 from state workmens comp. Anyway, best of luck and I hope the wounded veterans get a fair shake. God Bless

  7. Here’s a new article from
    “Military dot com”
    “With More Funding, VA to Cover Vets Requiring Hepatitis C Treatments”

    10 March 2016 | by Bryant Jordan

    I think this is great news, YET, where are they getting the $$$$ from?

    1. Another good article is on the Daily Caller by Luke Rosiak about union members admitting they let veterans die rather than talk to Republican members of Congress.

      1. @91Veteran
        I believe if you go to
        “DAVReform dot org”
        You’ll see where the DAV (Disabled American Veterans) was the “main culprit” in trying to get lawyers out of the mix. Especially, when it came to filing claims for veterans!
        There’s plenty of other things that worthless VSO did to it’s own members.
        I hope y’all check it out!

    2. Ben, good to hear about NOVA. I was aware of the group, but had not known much detail about them.

      I did not know that the law barring attorneys from helping with claims had been repealed. There seems to a lot of old information still floating around among veterans believing they can only hire an attorney long after the claims process is started.

  8. Are there lawyers who will help veterans with PTSD and a TBI.

    To go after the VA. For the veterans back pay.

    When the veterans were lied to about their records being destroyed in the fire in st Louis.

    And when pushed the VA magically provides those records. Which proves they were lieing to the veterans.

    Veterans with ptsd and traumatic brain injury. Needs someone to assist or the VA will play games with those veterans.

    I would be more than happy to share 25 percent of the approximately 25 million dollars.

    How about it Ben. That would help us both.

    1. Shana Dunn shanadunn (at)

      She was a VA claims examiner iirc before becoming a lawyer. She is handling my husband’s SMC T claim.

  9. I would like to know what the chances are of getting legislation passed that allows attorneys from likes of Benjamin’s NOVA Seminar Comrade Members, to be allowed to represent Veterans Legally from the very START of a VA Disability Comp. Claim rather than as I understand it now, a Veteran having to wait until they are denied and then sent to the BVA Appeals Black Hole??
    If Attorneys were allowed to do as what I understand with Social Security Disability Income/Insurance (SSDI) representation, where the Attorney receives 25% max of forthcoming back pay, perhaps Veterans would have more of a fighting chance with Independent Medical Opinions, and competent legal personnel assuring the Veteran has ALL needed documentation or helps to acquire missing pieces, that full provide that VA needed ‘nexus’ that proves Service Connection’.
    I read the NOVA site’s info and links showing the 2007 change allowing Veterans legal representation, but for a Vet to have to wait until ear lobe deep at the Appeals Stage, is like a cruise ship requiring their customers to swim half way to destination where the cruise ship will help you rest of way through shark-infested waters…and a Vet has to go that first half of Claims Journey in ‘VA Shark-Infested-Bureaucracy’.

    Is this being pushed by NOVA or any of the ‘Lamprey VSO’s’ in bed with the VA? Would this proposal be seen as a “threat to livelihood” of likes of DAV, VFW, et al?

    Does NOVA have a ‘Master Plan of Attack’ in forcing accountability upon all of the VA? I read on NOVA site that they do communicate with Congressional Veteran Committees but we have seen in just past 2 years how they are asleep at the wheel while the VA is going 116mph on a hair-pin curve. What’s NOVA’s collective take on this? FBI? (since the DOJ has been ‘compromised’) (so has the POTUS position)

    1. It is perplexing that criminals accused of a crime are entilted to an attorney at arrest, or before, while Veterans must wait until “after a denial” to get an attorney. This is like guaranteeing an attorney to a citizen “after they are convicted” if they are a Veteran…if they are a non Veteran, they can get an attorney right away.
      While, for me, it made sense for me to seek a “Free” VSO, instead of an attorney, if I were able to add up how much this “free” VSO cost me in lost benefits, I would have been way better off hiring an attorney from the get go.
      This would be true even if I had to pay full price for an attorney, assuming EAJA covered “0”, which is not true. I submitted 3 claims at application, “only one” was adjuticated. I did not know the other 2 were “deemed denied”, as I did not understand the difference between a “claim” and an “issue”.

  10. I found out that vets are being placed in public mental health facility rather than treated and helped by the VA itself is this true and why are they allowed to do this

    1. @Edward-

      Would you be so kind to qualify “what you found out” by providing a source/link because otherwise, not dismissing you, but it comes across as ‘hearsay’ if not substantiated by a valid ‘source’?
      Then that ‘source’ should be able to be double/triple checked on various other web-based news feeds to come up with common denominators to weed fact from fiction and embellishment, especially with such an alarming statement that insinuates incredibly egregious treatment of humans, let alone Veterans. Human Rights Violations, at that!
      Not enough provided to substantiate an effective go ogle search, at least with my skill-sets and the basics: Who, Where, When. Thanks and peace, looking forward to your ‘link’.

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