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Veterans benefits COMMITTEE REPORT

BY JERRY KLEIN, CHAIR

VB-1-95 Judicial Review: Until the new law, which only partially removed the fee limit and which created the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims (COAVC), is further amended, the resolution remains viable.

VB-2-95 Boards of Correction of Military Records: We recommend that this resolution be retired. This is a no-win resolution that will never be accepted by Congress. VVA would do better putting together a simple brochure, “How To Correct Military Records,” and have it available for membership and for outreach.

VB-3-95 Less-than-honorable Administrative Discharges: We recommend that this be retired. This also is a no-win resolution that will never be accepted by Congress. VVA would do better putting together a brochure on Administrative Upgrade Discharges (which are also covered in the Veterans Benefits Manual for Services Reps) and have it available for membership and for outreach.

VB-4-95 DVA Overpayments: This resolution should be retired because of the enactment of the Debt Collection Improvement Act of 1999 as well as the Debt Management Center on the VA web page, which seems to be reaching out to veterans about their rights.

VB-5-95 Civil Liberties of Active-duty Military Personnel: This resolution can be retired or revised. We do not know how many Vietnam veterans are still on active duty since this resolution was adopted in 1995. If it is not retired, perhaps it can be rewritten and updated for current veterans on active duty.

VB-6-95 Just Compensation for Injuries Sustained by Active-duty Military Personnel: This is perhaps an issue that can be brought to the attention of the Veterans Disability Benefits Commission, which is studying various facets of disability compensation and will be making recommendations to Congress and the President in October. However, we will need considerable research to shape and support our contention that this remains a significant problem for veterans.

VB-7-95 Class Actions at U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims: Before the Veterans Judicial Review Act (VJRA) was enacted, VVA was able to help veterans in the federal courts by filing class-action lawsuits. The VJRA is silent on such cases, and the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims provides no rules for class-action lawsuits. (Combine with VB-9-95).

VB-8-95 VA Implementation of Decisions Rendered by the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims: This resolution remains viable.

VB-9-95 Veterans Benefits and Services: Combine with VB-11-95.

VB-12-95 VA Service-connected Disability Compensation Payments & Military Retirement Pay Offset: This resolution needs to be updated to take into account congressional action to phase in concurrent receipt for a segment of career veterans. This resolution also can be augmented or replaced with a new resolution that takes into account SBP/DIC.

VB-13-95 Preservation of VVA Service Representation at the National Level: Although the rendering of claims remains woefully untimely, this resolution is dated.

VB-14-95 Attorney Representation at the VA: Recent legislation signed by the President effectively allows this resolution to be retired pending implementation of the rules of practice set to be published this spring or summer. This legislation is being challenged by the DAV. Note that H.R. 1318 would repeal the authority for agent or attorney representation in veterans benefits cases before the Department of Veterans Affairs. VVA remains opposed to this bill.

VB-15-95 Veterans and Hepatitis C: This should be retired, as it duplicates G-7-99. Despite VVA support of legislation that would make hepatitis C presumptive for service-connection, it is highly unlikely that Congress will mandate the VA to grant service-connection for this disease, and it is highly unlikely that the VA will act unilaterally in this.

VB-16-99 Copy of Military Records Upon Discharge: The Department of Defense 2007 authorization bill has language requesting that all service members receive an electronic copy of all their military records upon discharge. This resolution should be retired.

VB-17-01 Criminal Background Check for Incompetent Veterans: VVA should consider retiring this resolution. It has not been an active issue, and it’s highly doubtful that the VA or the FBI will take any action seven years after the fact.

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