I served over four years with the U.S. Army Rangers and got an honorable discharge. I broke my back and leg when my parachute malfunctioned. I had problems with pain, even while still in the service, but as a Ranger I "sucked it up." Once I got out I did not plan on applying b/c I figured benefits were for combat vets only, or for people that were old. I worked for the VA while in college and my supervisor -- a Vietnam Vet -- told me to file just to make sure I was covered. Injuries have a way of getting worse with age. I filed. I did not get turned down or get a "rating." I was 23 and figured I was on my own. I refilled a couple years ago -- finding out I had been "lost" in the system -- b/c the injuries. Now the VA is telling me I cannot receive benefits b/c of their oversight.
I believe all of the above commenters wore a uniform and appreciate your consideration for other veterans. That said, to a large extent your priority group for VA healthcare benefits is determined by your rating percentage and, as life progresses, this can be a huge issue for many veterans. The VA publishes a list of VA-accredited attorneys (at http://www.va.gov/ogc/apps/accreditation/) and you can limit the seach to those in Oregon. Regardless of representation, my advice is you obtain a copy of your OMPF (http://www.archives.gov/st-louis/) and request a complete copy of your VA Claim file from your Regional Office (this will contain whatever service medical records are associated with your claim file). From my perspective, you are fighting a battle blind if you are unaware what the VA is considering when adjudicating your claim. Good luck.
The lawyer does not have to be in Oregon. Search the AVVO find a lawyer tool. I recommend Seth Director.
This post is for information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice, nor does it establish an attorney client relationship with Mr. Cassara.
Concur with Attorney Cassara. Also, you can contact your local AMVETS chapter. There's also a list of practioners on the US Court of Appeals for Veteran's Claims website http://www.uscourts.cavc.gov/public_list.phpe.
Law Office of Stephen P. Kelly (508) 983-1479--Criminal Defense, Military Law, Divorce & Family Law, Appeals. DISCLAIMER: Answers to posted questions are for general interest only and do not constitute legal advice. No attorney-client relationship is established by virtue of any answer posted by the attorney.
You can also look to the National Organization of Veterans Advocates--those are the attorneys that specialize in appeals of VA decisions and who are accredited with the VA. Most of them also are admitted to the Court of Appeals of Veterans Claims.
Years licensed, work experience, education
Peer endorsements, associations, awards
Publications, speaking engagements