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Helping Our Heroes: Representing Veterans Before the VA, BVA, CAVC and DoD (2021 Military & Veterans Law Section Program)

8:25        Welcome and Introductions

8:30        Military Disability Retirement Pay and Issues in Family Law

Mark E. Sullivan, Law Offices of Mark E. Sullivan PA, Raleigh

Receive an overview of military disability retirement pay with a focus on family law issues that can arise, such as rules for garnishment for alimony and child support and rules for military pension division.

9:30        Break

9:40        Claims for Service Connection for Mental Health Conditions

Angie Lowe, Jan Dils Attorneys at Law LC, Charlotte

During this session, the speaker discusses the legal criteria and evidence the VA requires for claims for service connection for mental health conditions to be granted, and the obstacles associated with getting those claims granted. The discussion also includes a special focus on veterans' claims for PTSD based on personal trauma, including military sexual trauma. Mental health conditions are common among the veteran population, yet claims for VA benefits for mental health conditions can often be the most challenging.

10:40      Break

10:50      Total Disability Based on Individual Unemployability (TDIU)

Christopher J. Stevens, Deuterman Law Group, Winston-Salem

The VA's disability benefits rating system is meant to compensate veterans based on the average impairment in earning capacity resulting from injuries and diseases incurred as a result of military service. But oftentimes a disability that is rated at less than 100% prevents a veteran from working. TDIU claims stand as important opportunities to ensure a veteran is appropriately compensated for the level of economic impairment they experience when the ratings schedule does not adequately do so.

11:50      Lunch Break

12:20      Gulf War Conditions: Special Issues and Considerations

Tod M. Leaven, Grimes Teich Anderson LLP, Asheville

One of the more challenging claims to analyze and argue is a claim for Gulf War conditions/chronic unexplained multisystem illness. What do you need to look for in Gulf War condition claims? What common mistakes and errors are made by examiners and VA decision-makers in adjudicating claims for Gulf War conditions? Hear about this important issue from an experienced advocate.

1:20        Break

1:30        Historical Military Drug Policy: Discharge Upgrades and VA Benefit Issues

Robert R. Davis, Law Offices of Robert R. Davis PLLC, Charlotte

Listen to a discussion on how military drug policy has evolved over time, what that means for veterans seeking discharge upgrades, and how those considerations play into claims for VA benefits.

2:30        Break

2:40        Military Lease Termination

Michael S. Archer, U.S. Marine Corps, Jacksonville

The most commonly arising landlord-tenant issue in a military legal assistance setting is early lease termination. This presentation addresses the treatment of this issue by state and federal law, the subtle differences between the two, and practical problems and recommended solutions.

3:40        Break

3:50        Moving Beyond Agency Review: Representing Veterans in Federal Court

Tod M. Leaven, Grimes Teich Anderson LLP, Asheville

When the Board of Veterans Appeals has denied a veteran's claim, the next step in the appeal process is to take the claim to the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims (CAVC). This is the first opportunity the veteran has for an independent federal court to review agency decisions and correct errors made by the Board of Veterans Appeals. Representing veterans at this level is an important skill for an advocate to know. Learn the details of the legal landscape at the CAVC and how to argue effectively at this level.

4:50        Adjourn


The VA is the second-largest federal agency, and it offers a myriad of programs and benefits to the millions of military veterans who served the United States. Traversing the regulatory landscape of the Department of Veterans Affairs and the benefits it offers is often a challenging task for any veteran, especially if doing it alone.

We invite you to learn how to navigate these complex areas of law and regulation in order to better help fight for those who fought for us.


  • Michael S. Archer

    Michael S. Archer is the Director of Legal Assistance for Marine Corps Installations East (stationed in Jacksonville), which is generally comprised of Marine Corps installations in the southeastern United States. His duties include supervision of military legal assistance attorneys, maintaining a preventative law and education program, and providing advice to eligible clients concerning civil matters, including family law issues.

    Michael served 20 years as a Marine Corps judge advocate, retiring from active duty February 2003. While on active duty, he was assigned to various stateside and overseas positons, including chief of legal assistance in Okinawa, Japan; Camp Lejeune, North Carolina; and Yuma, Arizona. He has written numerous articles concerning military consumer and family law issues and is a frequent speaker on these topics. He has appeared before the U.S. Congress and, on multiple occasions, before the North Carolina General Assembly concerning military issues. He has been a member of the North Carolina State Bar standing committee on Legal Assistance for Military Personnel (NC LAMP) since 1995.

    Michael is the recipient of both the NC State Bar and the American Bar Association Distinguished Service Award. He is the author of "Ripped Off: A Servicemember's Guide to Common Scams, Frauds, and Bad Deals," published in 2014 by the American Bar Association.

  • Robert R. Davis

    Robert R. Davis started the Law Offices of Robert R. Davis to handle veterans benefits and military record correction issues after ten years at a nonprofit law firm. Robert has obtained discharge upgrades and veterans benefits for several clients who were part of Project 100,000. Robert began his career clerking for U.S. District Court Judge, Joseph J. Farnan, Jr., in Delaware and then practiced complex corporate litigation before moving to Charlotte. Robert received his juris doctor from William and Mary and also received a Master’s Degree in Public Policy. Robert earned his undergraduate degree from Appalachian State University. Robert’s law firm is located in Charlotte but represents clients throughout the United States and overseas.

    Click here for more information about Robert.

  • Tod M. Leaven

    Tod M. Leaven was born into a family of service, both his grandfather and father served abroad in the United States Army. He went to elementary school in Asheville and returned to Asheville with his parents after graduating high school. Tod served in the United States Army from 1998 to 2004, including the initial Kosovo Occupation with the 501st Military Intelligence Battalion, 1st Armored Division, and the Iraq War with the 3rd Squadron of the 7th Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Infantry Division.

    After his years of service, he graduated Summa Cum Laude from the University of North Carolina at Asheville in 2006 and graduated from the University of North Carolina School of Law in 2010. In law school, he served on the North Carolina Journal of Law and Technology as a staff member and as Editor-in-Chief. Tod practiced in Raleigh before returning to Asheville to work with a civil litigation firm. He joined Grimes Teich Anderson in 2014 to develop its Veterans practice.

    Click here for more information about Tod.

  • Angie Lowe

    Angie Lowe is a veterans disability attorney at Jan Dils Attorneys at Law LC in Charlotte. Our country's Veterans fought for their country. Now, Angie believes it is her turn to fight for them. She has been a member of the Jan Dils legal team since 2009, Angie helps Veterans obtain disability benefits, providing sound legal advice, skilled representation and, often, some needed encouragement.

    "What amazes me is how complex and complicated the Veterans' Administration claims process can be, and that can be frustrating for veterans, who have done so much for their country and now have to fight tooth-and-nail to get the benefits they rightfully deserve," Angie said. "We offer the motivation not to give up, and the experience to obtain the results our clients deserve. At Jan Dils, we explain the whole process and provide a guiding hand to help veterans through it."

    Angie is a Pittsburgh native – and a diehard Steelers, Pirates and Penguins fan – who received her undergraduate degree in political science from Westminster College. Angie attended law school at the Duquesne University School of Law in Pittsburgh, where she completed an internship with the Women's Center and Shelter of Greater Pittsburgh. She graduated in 2008.

    Click here for more information about Angie.

  • Christopher J. Stevens

    Christopher J. Stevens is an attorney at The Deuterman Law Group in Winston-Salem. His area of practice is representing military veterans in their claims for VA disability compensation. He is accredited to practice at the VA and the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims.

    Christopher earned his juris doctor from the UNC School of Law. He graduated from Appalachian State University with a bachelor of science in business administration, double majoring in economics and marketing. He is the current Vice-Chair for the NCBA Military & Veterans Law Section.

    Click here for more information about Christopher.

  • Mark E. Sullivan

    Mark E. Sullivan is the principal of Law Offices of Mark E. Sullivan PA in Raleigh. He has limited his trial practice to family law since 1981 and has been certified by the North Carolina State Bar as a Family Law Specialist since 1989. He is a former vice-chair of the Family Law Section, North Carolina Bar Association, and a former president of the North Carolina Chapter, American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers. Mark is a retired Army Reserve JAG colonel (34 years of commissioned service), and is the author of The Military Divorce Handbook, (ABA, 3rd Ed. 2019).

    Mark was co-founder of the military committee of the North Carolina State Bar in 1981, and he has been a member of the committee or its director ever since. He is a past chair of the Military Committee of the ABA Family Law Section, and served on the ABA Working Group for the Protection of the Rights of Servicemembers in 2002-2003. He received the American Bar Association's Grassroots Advocacy Award in 2014 for his work on military custody in helping to write the Uniform Deployed Parents Custody and Visitation Act and getting military custody legislation enacted in over twenty states. He was a member of the Department of Defense panel of experts on revising the Former Spouses' Protection Act in 1997.

    Mark advises and assists fellow attorneys from across the country in drafting military pension division orders, deciding on the Survivor Benefit Plan, and resolving other military divorce issues. He has been accepted as an expert for military pension division for oral testimony in cases in eight states, and was recognized as a national expert in military pension division in a 2011 Minnesota Court of Appeals decision. He has been cited in at least eight appellate/supreme court decisions in at least seven different states besides North Carolina. He has prepared military pension division orders for fellow attorneys in over 33 states.

    Mark has been quoted in the Wall Street Journal, Town & Country Magazine, Law Weekly USA and The Raleigh News & Observer, and has had articles published in the American Journal of Family Law, Family Law Quarterly, Family Advocate, The Military Law Review, the Army Lawyer, Family Advocate, and The Practical Lawyer. He has written over 100 articles on the subjects of military pension division and Survivor Benefit Plan for a dozen or more periodicals published by State Bar family law sections across the country.

    Mark earned his BA at Kenyon College, magna cum laude, and his JD from the University of Virginia.

    Click here for more information about Mark.

November 18, 2021
Thu 8:25 AM EST

Duration 8H 25M

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