Veterans Services

By Andrew Tilghman: A high-level federal court on Friday delivered a blow to the rights of military reservists. The case involved a Navy reservist who claimed that his civilian employer fired him because he was mobilized and deployed to Afghanistan, a violation of federal laws designed to protect reservists from discrimination based on their military service. But Kevin Ziober lost his case before the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, one step below the U.S.

By NIKKI WENTLING – For the next five years, veterans will have an easier time seeking benefits for illnesses linked to service in the Gulf War because of an extension issued Monday by the Department of Veterans Affairs.  Since 1994, the VA has automatically presumed a connection from Gulf War service, which included a toxic environment of oil fires and chemical weapons, to an increased risk for several illnesses.

By Patricia Kime:  Veterans can now apply for Veterans Affairs health benefits over the phone.  The VA published a final regulation on Monday that allows former service members to complete VA health care applications by calling 877-222-8387.  Read more here:

By Rebecca Kheel: A bipartisan group of nine lawmakers joined with leading veterans groups Tuesday to call for the final version of a defense policy bill to include language aimed at making it easier for veterans who were discharged for behavior related to mental health issues to upgrade their discharges.  Read more here:

Today the House passed H.R. 5620, the VA Accountability First and Appeals Modernization Act of 2016, by a bipartisan vote of 310-116.  The bill would:

Shorten the firing/demotion/appeals process for rank-and-file VA employees from more than a year on average to no more than 77 days

Remove entirely the Merit Systems Protection Board from the firing/demotion/appeals process for VA senior executives