PARKERSBURG, W.Va., Dec. 28, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Gary Walker released the below statements on behalf of Vets4FullRepresentation.com:
I had the privilege of serving as a Marine Squad Leader in the Vietnam War. I was awarded a Purple Heart and a Silver Star, and was wounded three times. My inspiration and close personal friend is the man I replaced in combat, David Huffman.
David was wounded and suffered total blindness from an enemy booby trap explosion. Since law school, he has helped thousands of similarly disabled veterans receive the full VA benefits to which they are entitled.
I share David's passion for helping vets. We are in the process of forming Vets4FullRepresentation, a nonprofit dedicated to educating the public about how attorneys are compensated.
In 2007, the VA changed its statutes and regulations so attorneys could receive compensation only for claims on appeal. Claims can take several years to resolve, and the VA treats any old, new, or future claim as ineligible for fees until appeal.
I believe veterans are entitled to have attorneys represent them from start to finish and be able to handle all past, current and future disability issues that might be identified.
Many other VA service organizations, such as the DAV, VFW and American Legion, file disability claims for free. However, they are allowed to receive public donations and government funding to support staff service officers and offset expenses. Prior to an appeal, attorneys are not allowed to receive a gift or a fee for their services. This isn't fair to veterans, and it discourages more attorneys from participating in the VA disability claims process.
Some VA attorneys may choose to represent veterans for issues only on appeal; David Huffman believes that is throwing the veteran under the bus for other issues not on appeal. Consequently, attorneys like David Huffman end up working for free in order to work for pay later.
Veterans deserve the right to choose the best representative for themselves, for free or for pay, and they may want to choose an experienced attorney who can navigate the VA claims process.
If you are a veteran seeking assistance, or an attorney who believes as we do that public policy should change, I encourage you to visit the web site:
There are an estimated 1.6 million veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, and 45% of them have one or more war-related disabilities. All of these veterans deserve the choice of full representation.