jump to example.com
newsletter linked in

Mark Warner urges Senate to consider VA clinic model adopted at William and Mary

mark-warnerU.S. Sen. Mark Warner sent a letter to each of his Senate colleagues today encouraging them to consider an innovative program developed by the College of William & Mary Law School as a national model in efforts to reduce the processing backlog for military veterans with complicated disability claims.

William & Mary’s Lewis B. Puller, Jr. Veterans Benefits Clinic puts law students to work gathering historical documentation and medical records that are required in support of many of the most complicated cases currently pending at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. The V-A has acknowledged a backlog of nearly 600,000 claims.

Last month, Sen. Warner also urged U.S. Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki to consider the Puller Clinic model as part of a national network of pro bono legal help for military veterans with complicated disability claims.

Sen. Warner’s letter to his 99 Senate colleagues is below and available here:

Dear Colleague:

As a strong supporter of our military men and women and our veterans, I know that you share my serious concerns about the estimated 600,000 disability claims currently backlogged in the Veterans’ Affairs (VA) processing system. Last month, 67 members of the United States Senate joined together in signing a bipartisan letter urging the President to make elimination of the VA claims backlog, which currently averages 300 days, a more urgent national priority. As we work together to find innovative, commonsense solutions, I urge you to join me in support of one successful approach already underway in Virginia.

The College of William & Mary’s nationally-recognized Marshall-Wythe School of Law recently established the Lewis B. Puller, Jr. Veterans Benefits Clinic, which has been effectively harnessing the energy and skills of law students by providing pro bono legal assistance to veterans in documenting and submitting some of the most difficult VA benefits claims. VA officials have told us the backlog is caused, in part, by the staff time and effort required to fully document and process often incomplete disability claims.

Under close supervision by the Clinic’s professional staff, these law students gain valuable legal training while tracking down the supporting factual evidence and medical documentation required to help correlate the direct relationship between service event and injury. Clinic students have the opportunity to interview clients, analyze medical records, communicate with health providers and craft strategies to help clients receive disability compensation.  The program recently was profiled in a news article in the Newport News, Va., Daily Press.

In addition to providing direct representation to veteran clients while compiling and then submitting these complex VA claims, the non-profit Puller Clinic also conducts education and outreach to the region’s homeless and indigent veterans. The Clinic also has produced a training template for private attorneys who wish to volunteer their services to assist military veterans in receiving the benefits they have earned.

These services can have life-changing effects on the veterans served by the Puller Clinic. In the past year alone, law students and pro bono have successfully achieved an average 26% increase  in the VA disability ratings assigned to clients in some of the most complicated cases. In addition to direct representation of veterans in hundreds of complex claims, the Puller Clinic’s services also include assisting with the costs of related medical and psychological services, as well as related transportation expenses.

If we work together as colleagues to extend this program to other law schools across the country, we could provide tangible assistance to many of our veterans by ensuring that complex claims are completed in a more comprehensive and timely manner prior to submission to the VA. With your support, a network of similar pro bonoefforts could be established to help reduce the burden and strain on veterans who often struggle to produce the required documentation for claims of service-related injury and trauma. In addition, this initiative could assist VA employees by significantly reducing the time and effort currently required to process more complex disability claims.

To date, 15 colleges and universities in Virginia — and an equal number across the country — have established similar programs to serve our military veterans. These clinics serve as excellent examples of constructive civic engagement, increasing collaboration with the VA as it works to address its chronic backlog of disability claims.

William & Mary’s Puller Clinic has prepared a playbook containing guidance on how to effectively establish similarpro bono programs to serve our military veterans. I would be pleased to share it with you if you believe this approach might be of interest to law schools located in your state. For more information, please feel free to contact my office.

Top Stories

New Quinnipiac poll: Clinton looking good in battlegrounds

Democrat Hillary Clinton wipes out Republican Donald Trump’s leads in Georgia and Iowa, where the two are tied among likely voters.

Out of the Darkness Walk exceeds 2016 goals

The Greater Augusta Out of the Darkness Walk returned to Staunton for its second year and brought an increase in participants and fundraising.

Jeff Ishee returns to host WVPT’s Virginia Farming

Shenandoah Valley broadcasting veteran Jeff Ishee returns to his role as host of WVPT’s agriculture news program Virginia Farming.

GAPP sponsors teen video contest to promote substance-free living

Greater Augusta Prevention Partners is sponsoring a video contest to promote the message “Living Alcohol and Drug Free.”

Recent News

Hosts Chris Graham and Crystal Graham of Augusta Free Press highlight local news and newsmakers with an emphasis on the Shenandoah Valley on Viewpoints on WVPT.

Join the conversation on WVPT's Facebook page.

Chris Graham is the editor of Augusta Free Press, ESPN3 baseball broadcaster and the author of five books. Crystal Graham is the award-winning former host of WVPT’s Virginia Tonight.

Show airs Wednesday nights at 7:30 p.m.

Want to see what's coming up on Viewpoints? Click here.

Missed a show? Watch OnDemand and on our YouTube channel.

Past shows are also available via the PBS app wherever it is available (iOS, Xbox, Roku, Android, etc). Videos will be found more easily if you localize the app and select WVPT as your local PBS station.

AFP Business

Your One-Stop Media Shop

Augusta Free Press LLC provides clients in the Shenandoah Valley and Central Virginia and beyond with marketing and PR solutions including web design, magazine/brochure, TV/radio, social media and overall marketing campaign design and implementation.


Get information on readership and advertising online with us.

AFP Classes

Augusta Free Press offers a series of hour-long classes on website design, marketing strategy, social media, event planning and more.

Web Design

You want a new website, but don’t have the first clue as to how to build one. That’s our job. Get your business online for as little as $1,299.

Graphic Design

Whether you need a fresh business card design, rack card, ad, flyer or full magazine design, we can help with all your graphic-design needs.


Augusta Free Press manages advertising campaigns for small- and medium-sized businesses across Virginia. You don’t need to hire a full-time marketing coordinator. Bring the experience of the Augusta Free Press team to work for you – for a fraction of the cost.

Search Engine Optimization

The prettiest website in the world is like a tree falling in the forest with no one there to hear it. If your website hasn’t been search engine optimized, no one is going to see it or hear it – and it’s not going to work for you.


Web videos, TV and radio commercials, DVDs – Augusta Free Press LLC has you covered when it comes to video and audio production.