Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs (WDVA) Secretary Dan Zimmerman announced that the WDVA has started accepting applications for grants up to $25,000 from registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations that provide financial assistance or other services to Wisconsin veterans and their families. Nonprofits interested in applying for this grant opportunity must submit their completed applications by September 28, 2018.
The Wisconsin Access to Justice Commission has named Travis James West of West & Dunn to the 2017 Pro Bono Honor Society. The award, announced annually in conjunction with National Law Day, was created by the Commission with support from the Wisconsin State Bar’s pro bono program to honor lawyers who have performed at least 50 hours of qualifying pro bono legal services during the past calendar year. Mr. West, who also received the honor in 2013 and 2014, routinely represents veterans without charge before the US Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims.
For the first time, a federal agency recognized that exposure to burn pits used at a US military forward operating base may cause lung disease. This January an administrative law judge (“ALJ”) in the Department of Labor (“DOL”) found that burn pit exposure caused lung disease in a government contractor working in Iraq. Ever since, social media platforms have been abuzz with hopeful chatter that the DOL decision will spark the Department of Veterans Affairs (“VA”) to follow suit and acknowledge the connection between burn pits and negative health conditions. While DOL’s decision evidences a hopeful crack, the dyke has not yet fully burst. Although the ALJ found that a government contractor presented enough evidence to show that exposure to the burn pits caused her lung disease, the DOL decision does not control decisions made by the VA. Veterans with claims pending before VA for that relate to burn pit exposure must continue to gather medical evidence to bring a successful benefits claim — a daunting task when it comes to proving causation.
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