Press Releases

Sen. Warner Announces Dept. Of Veterans Affairs Certification Of William & Mary Puller Clinic As A National Model

~ First law school clinic in the country to be certified as a national “best practice” ~

Aug 21 2013

WILLIAMSBURG – U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) today joined U.S. Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki in announcing that William & Mary Law School’s Lewis B. Puller, Jr. Veterans Benefits Clinic has been certified as a national “best practice” program, with a VA-approved, expedited process for submission of disability claims. The Puller Clinic is the first law school clinic in the nation to receive the VA designation.

Since the Puller Clinic accepted its first clients in 2008, more than 90 law students, working under the supervision of managing attorneys, have assisted hundreds of veterans with claims for disability benefits. The VA typically can process a fully developed claim, which includes all available supporting evidence such as private treatment records, in half the time required to process a traditional claim.

Sen. Warner has championed the Puller Clinic program, sending a letter to his Senate colleagues earlier this year to promote the law school model. He also met with Secretary Shinseki to advocate for the Puller Clinic program as a national model to help solve the nation’s backlog of VA disability claims.

“This is a win-win-win: veterans get quicker approval for benefits they have earned, the VA can move quicker through its backlog because it will be receiving more complete and accurate claims, and William & Mary law students will develop new legal skills as well as a respect for pro bono service,” Sen. Warner said. “I could not be more pleased with today’s significant announcement from the VA.”

“The Puller Clinic’s holistic approach to claims management – combining legal and psychological assistance – provides a national model for how law schools across the country can help solve the nation's backlog of veterans' benefits claims,” said William & Mary President Taylor Reveley. “Today’s announcement by the Department of Veterans Affairs reflects the tireless leadership of Senator Mark Warner, the great work being done at William & Mary Law School, and the determination of the VA to work collaboratively to address the needs of our veterans.”

The FDC Community of Practice was established in May to help speed the processing of veterans’ disability compensation claims. “We’re delighted to have the Puller Clinic join the effort to increase the number of veterans filing fully developed claims,” said Under Secretary of Veterans Affairs Allison A. Hickey. “It’s indicative of the growing national commitment to the timely delivery of veterans benefits.”

Inspired by the clinic's success, William & Mary created Helping Military Veterans through Higher Education (HMVHE), a consortium of 19 universities in Virginia committed to serving veterans.  Veterans and others interested in supporting this work can learn more about the Puller Clinic here.

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