The Dudley T. Dougherty Foundation

Providing Justice for Warriors

Grant Information
Categories Healthcare
Location United States
Cycle Year 2010
Organization Information
Organization Name (provided by applicant) National Veterans Legal Services Program
Organization Name (provided by automatic EIN validation)
Contact Information
Contact Name Bob Smith
Phone 202-621-5690
1600 K Street
Suite 500
Additional Information
Used for The National Veterans Legal Services Program (NVLSP) is an independent nonprofit organization that has worked since 1980 to ensure that the government keeps their promise to our nation's 25 million veterans, active duty personnel, and their families by providing them the benefits they have earned through their service to our country. We accomplish this mission by working for passage of legislation that ensures a just benefit delivery system, providing free legal representation to veterans and active duty military personnel on claims for government benefits to which they are entitled for their disabilities and training attorneys and advocates who desire to represent veterans in their fight for benefits. A grant from the Dudley T. Dougherty Foundation will help NVLSP continue its longstanding tradition to provide free legal service to our nations veterans in helping them obtain the benefits they have been wrongly denied for their service to our country.
Benefits U.S. service members not only fight to protect the freedoms we enjoy in the United States, but they also serve other countries by helping in disaster relief, serving with other nations to battle terrorism and serving with United Nations forces in the fight to protect the lives of people all over the world. No matter where or who they serve, when a U.S. servicemember is wounded and discharged from the military, these wounded warriors and their families are entitled, by law, to benefits for their service to their country and the world. Too often these benefits are unjustly denied and they desperately need skilled lawyer and non-lawyer advocates to represent them in their disability claims.
Fighting to close the gap between benefits the government promises and the benefits it actually provides to disabled warriors and their families.

The military departments and the VA are charged with keeping the government’s promise to care for our disabled warriors and their families. When those in uniform suffer serious injuries that prevent them from continuing to perform their military duties, the military departments must provide them and their families with lifetime financial benefits and free lifetime health care. The VA must also provide veterans such benefits where their disabilities are discovered long after their discharge from military service.

There is currently an unprecedented backlog of unresolved cases, and it frequently takes years for a warrior to secure the benefits to which she or he is entitled. In short, the system is incapable of protecting the disabled warrior. They desperately need skilled lawyer and non-lawyer advocates to represent them.

Since 1980, the National Veterans Legal Services Program has employed a variety of tools to close the gap between the benefits actually provided to America’s disabled veterans, active duty military personnel, and their families and the benefits to which they are entitled.

Advocating changes in law:

NVLSP played a central role in convincing Congress to change unfair elements of the system that helped produce and maintain the “benefits gap.” A 1933 federal law prohibited U.S. courts from reviewing VA decisions denying veterans’ claims for benefits. In 1988, at the urging of NVLSP and other organizations, Congress passed landmark legislation giving veterans and their survivors the right to appeal denials of their claims to a new federal court – the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims.

In the early 1990s, fewer than 20% of the veterans who appealed to the new court could find lawyers. NVLSP fought to ensure they had access to legal assistance. It persuaded Congress to pass a law requiring the government to pay attorneys’ fees if the court found the VA benefits decision unreasonable. In addition, with funding from Congress, NVLSP and three other veterans’ service organizations established a program to recruit, train, and mentor lawyers to provide free legal assistance to veterans who appeal to the court – an ongoing program now in its 18th year.

In 2007, NVLSP helped convince Congress to repeal an obsolete law that prevented veterans from securing a lawyer to represent them before the VA. The repealed law – which had been on the books since 1862 – prevented veterans from paying a lawyer more than $10 as a fee to represent them on a VA claim.

Dramatically leveraging its resources. NVLSP also closes the benefits gap by enlisting thousands of other advocates nationwide to join NVLSP in this battle.

NVLSP trains non-lawyer advocates employed by veterans’ service organizations and state departments of veterans’ affairs to represent veterans before the VA, arming them with winning techniques and legal arguments. Over the last 30 years, NVLSP has trained thousands of these advocates at the request of The American Legion, AMVETS, Military Order of the Purple Heart, Wounded Warriors Project, National Association for Black Veterans, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Vietnam Veterans of America, the NAACP, and numerous state departments of veterans affairs.

NVLSP has also enlisted thousands of lawyers from every part of the United States through veterans law programs sponsored by state bar associations, the American Bar Association, private law firms, law school clinical programs, and law offices funded by the Legal Services Corporation.

Educational publications:
To support lawyer and non-lawyer advocates, in 1991 NVLSP wrote its Veterans Benefits Manual, a 1900-page book on veterans law and issues. NVLSP has updated this publication in each of the last 11 years. This manual is the only publication of its kind and is available in print and CD-ROM format, and thousands of lawyer and non-lawyers use it. NVLSP also provides a correspondence training course, a quarterly on-line journal with in depth analysis of current case law and strategy, and a guide to help veterans cut through the government bureaucracy.

NVLSP will use this grant to continue to help thousands of our returning warriors and their families secure the health care and other disability benefits to which they are entitled!

Currently, there are more claimants than there are trained advocates. There are advocates available from veterans’ service organizations and private attorneys who are eager to be trained, but NVLSP lacks the funds to be able to meet the needs of those who desire to be trained. NVLSP must hire more attorneys to be able to represent veterans and train more advocates.

National Veterans Legal Services Porgram respectfully requests a $10,000 grant from the Dudley T. Dougherty Foundation. With this grant the Dudley T. Dougherty Foundation will help NVLSP provide free legal representation to America’s service members and veterans in disability, discharge, and veterans benefits cases who served in Iraq, Afghanistan and other previous engagements. The benefits these brave defenders of freedom earn are important not only to them as individuals, but are also critical to their families.

Your support will also enable NVLSP to multiply the impact of its acknowledged expertise by training and mentoring hundreds of lawyer and non-lawyer advocates every year.

We thank you for every consideration.