The Official Voice of Vietnam Veterans of America, Inc. ®
An organization chartered by the U.S. Congress

November/December 2005
Veterans Benefits Update

The New Guy


You may notice a new author of this installment of the Benefits Update. Leonard J. Selfon served VVA for over six years and was a true champion of veterans’ rights and benefits. Although Len is no longer with VVA, I am happy to report that he is continuing to stand up for the rights of veterans. Len has joined the staff of the United Spinal Association, a group whose mission is expanding opportunities for veterans and other paralyzed Americans.

I have been with VVA for a little over a year. I had the pleasure of working under Len as an appellate attorney in our Washington, D.C., office at the Board of Veterans’ Appeals.

VVA continues to have the highest success rate before the Board of Veterans Appeals for the period January through October. All of us at VVA national headquarters are committed to insuring that we continue to maintain this high rate of success. Working as an appellate attorney for VVA has provided me with an excellent view into the inner workings of VVA and the VA. I am looking forward to applying my knowledge and skills to aid our members and veterans.

I come into the position of Acting Director of Veterans Benefits as a veteran and an attorney. I served in the U.S. Navy from 1990 until 1994. I was stationed on the USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71). Our deployments included Operation Desert Storm and the Bosnia Theater of Operations. During my four-year tour I primarily worked Crash and Salvage on the flight deck. I left the Navy as an E-4 to take advantage of the G.I. Bill.

Following my military service I continued my education, earning a B.A. degree from the University of Maryland and a J.D. from Ohio Northern University. I came to VVA with experience in handling insurance appeals for hospitals against insurance companies, healthcare law, and supporting complex litigation.

Although I may be new in the Director’s chair, I assure you that business will continue as usual. We also are looking at many hot topics, such as the PTSD review and additional Agent Orange issues. I hope to be telling you more about these issues in the future. I look forward to serving our members and veterans and upholding the excellent reputation of VVA.

I also would like to notify our readers of a new attack on veterans. Recently the VA issued a notice regarding an identity theft scam against veterans. Individuals have been preying on unsuspecting veterans—in particular, older veterans. The callers, identifying themselves as the “Patient Care Group,” have been informing veterans that the VA has changed their prescription procedures. Then they ask for a credit card number.

James Nicholson, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs, has said the “VA has not changed its processes for dispensing prescription medicines. And we’ve definitely not changed our long-standing commitment to protect the personal information of our veterans.”

Anyone with questions about telephone inquiries dealing with new prescription-dispensing procedures should contact the nearest VA Medical Center or call 877-222-8387.


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