Liberty Law hosts a court case concerning veteran affairs Feb 21

Law students and professors gathered in Liberty University School of Law’s federal court room to observe a real case involving the Veterans Consortium’s class action suit against the Office of Veterans Affairs (VA). Liberty University’s School of Law hosted the United States Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims Feb. 21.

Tory Lucas, a professor in the School of Law, believes the experience greatly benefited law students. 

“Any time that we can transform (the) School of Law into an actual courtroom with actual judges and actual attorneys in an actual case, our learning community receives an exponential benefit from that experience,” Lucas said. “The law certainly came alive during (the) oral arguments last week.”

The Veterans Consortium petitioned over the unreasonable wait times for veterans before the VA addresses their claims. 

As the respondent, the VA held that in some circumstances, a longer wait time is reasonable for veterans, depending on the nature of the case. The VA said they hope to create shorter wait times in the future. 

Judge Pietsch, Judge Allen and Judge  Bartley presided over the case between the Veterans Consortium and the VA. The oral arguments occurred Thursday and the judges will come to a decision at a later date, after examining the briefs.  

Former President Ronald Reagan established the United States Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims through Congress in 1988 to keep the VA in check and to ensure veterans receive the benefits they deserve in a reasonable amount of time.

Sandy Petersen, manager of client services at the Veterans Consortium Pro Bono Program, assists veterans in receiving the advocacy they need by assigning them attorneys to handle their cases without a charge.  

“It is so important that veterans are given the extent that they deserve based on the extent to which they served our country,” Petersen said. “I want to make sure they get those benefits that they’ve been promised.”

Photo Provided COURT — Three judges presided over the case between the Veterans Consortium and the VA.

Some veterans and their families wait several years before their case is ever certified to the board, due to oversight. As the newest federal court in the U.S., the Veterans Court of Appeals exists to guarantee that no veteran’s needs fall through the cracks.   

Liberty international relations major and law school-hopeful, Alyssa Rumbuc observed the case Thursday and supports the petitioner’s argument. 

“Veterans were not getting the resources that they earned (for) fighting for our country,” Rumbuc said. “Because of the nature of bureaucracy and government, things get lost in the shuffle or just delayed in a way that is unconstitutional. Having that check for people to bring their petition to court in order to receive the benefits that they earned is very important.”

Petersen advocates for veterans’ rights at the Veterans Consortium and has a passion for supporting those who served. 

“I love hearing veterans’ stories,” Petersen said. “It makes it more real to me, and it drives my passion for making sure that we can help them in any way. It is really rewarding. … They really show their appreciation by thanking us, (but) I really want to thank (them) for what they did for our country.” 

The Veterans Consortium includes about 4,000 attorney and non-attorney practitioners, dedicated to serving veterans’ legal needs at no cost. 

“I love being able to be a part of that,” Petersen said. “It’s been a great experience for me, and I hope it is for the veteran.”

For the final decision on this case, visit the website of the United States Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims. 

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