New Year, New Priority: Your Veterans Benefit Claims


Life is busy, and we often put things on the back burner. However, it’s never too late to refocus and prioritize yourself.

If you or a family member have thought about filing claims for service-connected disabilities – benefits our nation’s veterans are entitled to – now is a great time to reset and start the process. 

Hello, My name is Jim Burn.

I’m a veteran attorney here at Abes Baumann, and I represent veterans Service Connected disabilities, making sure they get the benefits that they are entitled to for their honorable service to our country.

Today we’re standing in Millville Borough, where I live. I’ve lived here since 1972.

I had the honor to serve my borough. I served as mayor of Millville here for 12 years.

To this day, it’s been 30 years now. I am invited by the VFW Post 118, an American Legion, which is right across the street, invited to this doughboy on Memorial Day to say a few words about the sacrifices veterans have made so that we can all live in a blanket of freedom.

Those who served honorably, those who gave the ultimate sacrifice names on this placard and names on placards, and folks who rest eternally now in this nation and across the world.

Being a veteran attorney is not a job. Being a veteran attorney is a calling, a calling brings me here today at the beginning of 2024 to speak with all of
you about your New Year’s resolutions.

By the time we get to this late in January, many folks have forgotten their resolutions that they even made it.

And I’m sure many of you who have served and have talked about your claims or thought about filing claims, perhaps made a resolution to reach out, pick up the phone and speak to somebody who does veterans law about your claim, about about what their next best steps may be.

We are that firm. I am that person. Don’t break that resolution.

Pick up the phone and call us about your veteran claim. There’s no obligation. You have nothing to lose.

I guarantee we will give you some insight that you may not have had before you picked up that phone.

As we get into 2024, you’re probably seeing some articles or some flash news items or advertisements about perhaps some deadlines coming up with respect to PACT ACT and claims, please call us and we can talk about that with you as well.

Make a resolution. Now. Give us a call. We’ll talk through it.

Thank you for your honorable service to our country.

Military veterans can now receive free emergency mental health care

Original article from the Associated Press published on CNN

CNN — As of Tuesday, US military veterans in an “acute suicidal crisis” can receive free treatment including inpatient care up to 30 days and outpatient care for up to 90 days.

The expanded care was announced by the Department of Veterans Affairs on Friday, and is meant to “prevent veteran suicide by guaranteeing no cost, world-class care to veterans in times of crisis.” Veterans who are seeking that care can go to any VA or non-VA health care facility, the release said, and they do not have to be enrolled in the VA system to receive care.

“Veterans in suicidal crisis can now receive the free, world-class emergency health care they deserve – no matter where they need it, when they need it, or whether they’re enrolled in VA care,” VA Secretary for Veterans Affairs Denis McDonough said in the release. “This expansion of care will save Veterans’ lives, and there’s nothing more important than that.”

The new policy says veterans who were discharged after more than two years of service under conditions other than dishonorable are eligible for the care, which will either be paid for or reimbursed by the VA.

The policy will also apply to former service members, including those in the Reserves, who served “more than 100 days under a combat exclusion or in support of a contingency operation” who were discharged under conditions other than dishonorable, and veterans who were the victim of sexual assault, sexual battery, or sexual harassment while serving.

According to the VA’s release, the policy will “[p]rovide, pay for, or reimburse for treatment” of eligible veterans’ emergency suicide care, transportation costs, and follow-up care at a VA or non-VA facility, to include 30 days of inpatient care and 90 days of outpatient.

The policy will also allow the VA to make “appropriate referrals” after a period of emergency suicide care, determine veterans’ eligibility for other service and benefits from the VA, and refer veterans who received the emergency care to other VA programs and benefits.

The VA’s 2022 report on veteran suicide said that in 2020, 6,146 US veterans died by suicide, which was 343 fewer than seen in 2019. Suicide was the 13th leading cause of death among veterans in 2020, the report said, and the second leading cause of death among veterans under 45 years old.

A Defense Department report released in October 2022 found that 519 US service members, including active duty, Reserve, and National Guard troops, died by suicide in 2021.

Expanding care for veterans at high risk of suicide was the second priority goal of a military and veteran suicide prevention strategy released by the White House in 2021. “Individuals at imminent or high risk of suicide should be guaranteed equitable access to high quality crisis care and follow-on support,” the strategy report said.

President Joe Biden said in the 2021 report that the US is “falling short” of the “one truly sacred obligation to Americans … to care for them and their families when they return.”

“It is up to us to do everything in our power to live up to our most sacred obligations,” he said. “We owe it to the memories of those we’ve lost—and we owe it to the futures of those we might save.”

Editor’s Note: If you or a loved one have contemplated suicide, call The National Suicide and Crisis Lifeline at 988 or 1-800-273-TALK (8255) to connect with a trained counselor.

Blue Water Vets Courtroom Victory!

On January 29, 2019, the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit decided the case of Procopio v. Wilkie. This case involved the claim of Alfred Procopio a veteran of the U.S. Navy who served in waters off Vietnam and sought service-connected compensation for prostate cancer and diabetes, two conditions that the VA has found are caused by exposure to Agent Orange. Mr. Procopio’s claim was denied by the VA as he did not set foot on land in Vietnam. He was considered a Blue Water vet and, by VA definition, ineligible for benefits for diseases caused by Agent Orange.

The Court held that the law Congress passed in 1991, allowing compensation for vets exposed to Agent Orange, included vets who served in the territorial waters of the Republic of Vietnam (South Vietnam). The Court found that the term Congress used in the law, “Republic of Vietnam,” included the country’s territorial waters (a zone extending for 12 miles off its shore lines.)

This is a great victory for these veterans. For years they have been denied benefits that were available to vets who set foot on land in Vietnam, even though they were exposed to Agent Orange in the water and air during their time on board ships off the coast of South Vietnam.

The VA has not yet decided if it will ask the Supreme Court to review this decision. Please continue to check our website for updates.

If you have any questions about how this decision may affect you, please call the veteran’s practice attorneys at Abes Baumann, P.C. for a free consultation.

Did you drink the water at Lejeune?

In 2012 Congress passed a law recognizing that the water at Camp Lejeune was contaminated from August 1, 1953 to December 31, 1987. This law allowed the VA to pay for medical treatment for certain health problems caused by the water. The law did not allow the VA to pay any service-connected compensation for these problems. The VA is now deciding whether it will recognize certain medical conditions as presumptively related to the contaminated water at the camp. This means that the VA will pay compensation for certain diseases if the veteran was at Camp Lejeune between 1953-1987. The veteran does not have to show an actual connection between the disease and the water. The diseases the VA is thinking of paying compensation for are: kidney cancer; angiosarcoma (a type of cancer) of the liver; and acute myelogenous leukemia.   

It will take the VA time to decide if it will pay compensation for these diseases. However, a veteran with one of these diseases should not delay filing a claim. The date compensation begins will be decided by when the claim was filed. Even if the claim is filed and denied, the veteran can appeal. If the VA decides to pay compensation, the veteran will already have a claim in the system ensuring the earliest effective date can be assigned.

If the veteran has medical evidence that the disease was caused by the chemicals in the water, a claim can also be filed for any other disease that was caused by the water at the camp.

If this sounds confusing, it’s because it is. A qualified attorney can help you sift through the regulations. If you think a medical problem may be connected to your time in service, contact Abes Baumann and speak to an attorney today.


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