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Dorothy Kansas

Obtaining Lawyers

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Guest fla_viking

Dear Dorthy

In june 2006 you can obtain a lawyer after the first RO denial.

Terry Higgins

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Guest fla_viking

Dear Dorthy

In june 2006 you can obtain a lawyer after the first RO denial.

Terry Higgins

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Terry, has the Prez signed off on this law? If not, and I personnaly don't think he will sign off on it as it levels the playing field for veterans, then it ain't gonna become any law until he does sign off on it. After experiencing the VAs dirty tricks and deceit for thirty years I'd dance in the streets to see this become law.

The newly disabled Veterans would actually have REAL advocates on their side and a lot of the dirty tricks would go away.

OH, PLEASE LET THIS BECOME LAW!!

jaz

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Jay -here is the email press release on it- sorry I thought I posted this last week-

from Jeff Schade- Senate media:

NEWS FROM THE CHAIRMAN OF THE U.S. SENATE COMMITTEE ON VETERANS’ AFFAIRS

PRESIDENT BUSH SIGNS CRAIG’S VETERANS BILL INTO LAW

$3.2 billion measure will improve health delivery, overturns historic ban on attorneys, and expands benefits

Chairman Craig and his committee staff. From left to right: Alicia Buckner, Matt Lawrence, Theresa Vawter, Jeff Schrade, Kendra Waitley, Helen Walker, Chairman Larry Craig, Bill Cahill, Lupe Wissel, Amanda Meredith, Jon Towers, Suma Muralidhar, Brian Long and Brian Bainbridge.

December 24, 2006

Media contact: Jeff Schrade (202)224-9126

(Washington, DC) On Friday President George Bush signed into law a $3.2 billion comprehensive benefits and health care bill for veterans sponsored by U.S. Senator Larry Craig, the outgoing chairman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.

"I hope veterans will rest a little easier this Christmas knowing that Congress did its job. We passed legislation that will enable this country to move forward with major construction projects for veterans and also will make some significant changes that will benefit veterans and their loved ones for generations to come," said Sen. Craig from his home near Boise, Idaho.

The bill the President signed is S. 3421, the Veterans Benefits, Healthcare, and Information Technology Act of 2006.

Among its many provisions, the new law partially overturns a policy dating back to the Civil War era that has prohibited veterans from hiring attorneys to help them seek veterans’ benefits until they have spent months – sometimes years – exhausting the administrative process. The original policy came during a time when lawyers were often self trained and notoriously unscrupulous. As signed into law, this bill will now allow veterans or other VA claimants to hire attorneys during VA’s appeal process.

"The old law may have made sense in 1866, but 140 years later it was time to reexamine that outdated policy. Veterans will still have the option of utilizing the representation services provided without charge by many veterans organizations, but in addition they will have the option of hiring an attorney if they so choose," Craig said.

The legislation will also require VA to establish an Office of Rural Health. "For rural states like Idaho, the addition of this office should ensure that VA continues to focus on the needs and challenges of veterans who live in outlying areas," Craig said.

The new law should also help rural states by allowing VA to create a pilot program which makes non-VA facilities – such as private nursing homes or community hospitals – eligible for state veterans' home per diem payments.

"This change will allow veterans to stay closer to home and loved ones. I think that’s important," Craig said.

Among its many provisions, the bill adds $65 million to increase the number of clinicians treating post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and $2 million for additional blind rehabilitation specialists and increases the number of facilities where the specialists will be located. It also authorizes VA to designate six Parkinson's Disease Research, Education, and Clinical Centers of Excellence, and at least two Multiple Sclerosis Centers of Excellence.

The bill contains provisions that will provide VA with additional tools to help it contract with veteran and disabled veteran-owned small businesses.

"We want to make sure that veterans who do business with VA get high priority," Craig said.

The new veterans’ law authorizes the replacement of the VA facilities in New Orleans, which were wiped out during Hurricane Katrina, and move forward with new hospital projects in Denver, Las Vegas, and Orlando.

The bill also includes a provision sought by Sen. Craig which requires the removal of the remains of a double murderer – Russell Wayne Wagner – from Arlington National Cemetery. Wagner brutally murdered Daniel Davis, 84, and Wilda Davis, 80, in Maryland in 1994. Their son, Vernon Davis, is a veteran and he had sought help from Sen. Craig and Maryland Senator Barbara Mikulski to have his parents’ killer removed from that hallowed ground.

The new law will also enable the spouse or child of a servicemember who is hospitalized or receiving outpatient medical care to begin receiving financial help through VA for their education. Sen. Craig crafted that portion of the legislation earlier this year after meeting with Army Sgt. Jeff Mittman who was blinded during an attack in Iraq.

The new law will also enable tribal organizations to obtain grants from VA to help them establish, expand, or improve veterans' cemeteries on trust lands.

"We accomplished a lot for veterans with this bill. It’s a great way to finish the year," Craig said.

#####

This is likely to the be the last press release sent while Senator Craig is Chairman of the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs. In January he will become the Ranking Member of the committee – i.e., the top Republican. I will continue to send out news, information and opinions from Sen. Craig’s perspective as the Ranking Member. I certainly wish all on this list a Merry Christmas and hopes for wonderful New Year. Jeff Schrade

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