VA Law Info Links

The publishers of both the US Code Annotated (Thomson-West) and the US Code Service (Lexis-Nexis) will be delighted to sell you the volumes of their multivolume annotated editions of 38 USC (the USCA version includes a volume of an annotated portion of 38 CFR), with the annual pocket parts. Similarly, the internet research services WestLaw and Lexis carry the current texts of both. www.lexisnexis.com

Current text of 38 US Code:

Government Printing Office website:
http://frwebgate.access.gpo.gov/cgi-bin/usc.cgi?ACTION=BROWSE&title=38usc

Office of US House of Representatives Law Revision Counsel website, choose title 38:
http://uscode.house.gov/search/criteria.shtml

Cornell University’s website:
http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/38/usc_sup_01_38.html

The Congressional Committees on Veterans Affairs publish, every two years, an updated version of 38 USC - which, however, consists only of the sections themselves and none of the Official Notes (such as Executive Orders), and includes an appendix that doesn’t appear in the US Code. The text of the version updated through February 17, 2009 is also available here as a PDF file: http://veterans.house.gov/documents/title38.pdf

Current text of 38 Code of Federal Regulations:  

Government Printing Office website:
http://ecfr.gpoaccess.gov/cgi/t/text/text-idx?sid=8be5c84a5f857964af455f27c9e7b9ee&c=ecfr&tpl=/ecfrbrowse/Title38/38tab_02.tpl

Another Government Printing Office website offers the text of 38 CFR as it appeared since 1997. Note that the URL incorporates the year of the edition (each annual edition of 38 CFR is dated as of July 1st), so changing the year in the URL will obtain a different year’s edition:
http://www.access.gpo.gov/cgi-bin/cfrassemble.cgi?title=200838

The VA’s own website offers its own text of 38 CFR, broken up into several “books”; see the last item:
http://www.warms.vba.va.gov/sitemap.htm

The Government Printing Office publishes its annual paperback edition of 38 CFR in October-November each year (updated as of July 1st), in two volumes, for approximately $90 for the set. At that price, the reader may prefer to buy the Lexis-Nexis volume, mentioned above, which includes the text of 38 USC, and prints the CFR text in one volume, in print slightly larger than the GPO’s edition and with a better index.

Various VA manuals: The VA’s website contains search engines and links to a multitude of VA publications, including many of the manuals used by the VA in administering benefits. This is its Web Automated Reference Materials System (WARMS). Some of these manuals used to exist in hardcopy but now are available, even inside the VA, only online this way:
www.va.gov/site_map.htm

Various VA forms: A great many documents, including forms for applying for or appealing benefits decisions are here as PDF files:
http://www.va.gov/vaforms/

VA General Counsel Precedent Opinions: Approximately the same time as the VJRA, the VA General Counsel’s office began distinguishing its legal opinions between those which were to be considered Precedential and those which were not. The Precedential Opinions and some earlier or non-precedential opinions can be found on Lexis and Westlaw. The VA’s website offers Precedential Opinion grouped by year:
http://www.va.gov/ogc/precedentopinions.asp

A non-governmental website, HadIt, also offers summaries of Precedential Opinions:
www.hadit.com/va-office-general-counsel-precedent-opinions-2012

BVA Decisions: Decisions of the Board of Veterans Appeals are not commonly published, but many from recent years are available online:
http://www.index.va.gov/search/va/bva.html

CAVC Decisions: Decisions of the US Court of Appeals of Veterans Claims (originally known as the Court of Veterans Appeals) are published by West in a series known as Veterans Appeals (“Vet.App.”), issued in monthly advance sheets which include, as an appendix, decisions on further appeal published in F.3d or S.Ct. These monthly advance sheets are combined to produce a hardcover volume roughly every 8 or 9 months. With few exceptions only panel and en banc decisions are published, and only these have precedential weight.

The CAVC’s own website offers the text of its decisions, via an ISYS search engine:
search.uscourts.cavc.gov
... and grouped by year:
www.uscourts.cavc.gov/opinions.php

Federal Circuit Decisions: The US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, located in DC, hears appeals from CAVC decisions. These are available, of course, on Lexis and Westlaw. There seems no specific website for the veterans cases, but they can be distinguished by the appearance (in most instances) of the name of the then Secretary of Veterans Affairs. Free access to the Federal Circuit decisions can be had on the Lexis free service, LexisOne (choose the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals):
http://www.lexisone.com/lx1/caselaw/freecaselaw?action=FCLDisplayCaseSearchForm

The Federal Circuit’s own website offers the text of its own decisions, including many unpublished ones, arranged by date. The veterans cases can be distinguished on this list by its origin as “CAVC” or the then-Secretary’s name as defendant:
www.cafc.uscourts.gov/opinions-orders

Supreme Court Dispositions: The US Supreme Court is the only venue for appeals beyond the Federal Circuit. Only a very few such veterans cases have gotten full opinions in the Supreme Court and almost all the rest have been denied certiorari. The aforementioned LexisOne search service can provide the few full opinions. The denials of cert can be found on the Supreme Court’s chronological lists of Orders - the URL includes the October term year of the list (again, identifiable by the name of the Secretary):
www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/relatingtoorders/15

The VA has just started publishing “Veterans Law Review”, which is available online:
http://www.va.gov/vbs/bva/lawReview_MailCopy.htm

The VA’s own website offers a variety helps, including in the topic of veterans’ benefits:
http://benefits.va.gov/benefits/
and in the topic of health administration:
http://www1.va.gov/health/index.asp

and the online version of its annual booklet on Federal Benefits for Veterans:
http://www1.va.gov/opa/vadocs/current_benefits.asp

The Social Security Administration has a useful webpage on Disability Benefits for Wounded Warriors:
http://www.ssa.gov/woundedwarriors/

The US Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs has its own website, which offers news and some helpful guidance:
www.veterans.senate.gov

Similarly for the US House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs:
veterans.house.gov

Before I forget, Veterans Re-employment & Hiring: The enforcement of a veteran’s right to re-employment at his old job or preferential hiring at a new job is not handled directly by the VA, nor are cases about it heard by the CAVC. This aspect of veterans’ benefits is handled by the US Dept of Labor:
www.dol.gov/vets/veterans/index.htm

West prints an annual paperback devoted to this topic, The USERRA Manual: Uniformed Services Employment & Re-employment Rights, for $135:
http://west.thomson.com/productdetail/154236/40617134/productdetail.aspx

The University of Arizona Law School has a useful webpage:
http://www.law.arizona.edu/Library/Research/Guides/USERRA/info.cfm

Another useful webpage tries to connect veterans with employers especially interested in hiring former servicemembers:
http://www.military.com/vetcareers?ESRC=ov_mem_car_vet_jobs4.kw&np=1

.... the Congressional committees and a good many of the non-government websites devoted to veterans’ concerns include some guidance and useful material on this topic.

State Government Agencies for Veterans’ Concerns: Every State government also has an office devoted to veterans, which deal with a wide variety of topics, including employment, rehabilitation, and applications for various forms of benefits and assistance from federal and state agencies. Links to these agencies are on the VA’s website:
http://www.va.gov/statedva.htm

Unofficial sources of help:

There are many other sources of information and assistance to claimants for veterans’ benefits (and claimants may include, besides former servicemen, their civilian dependents), which are not run by the government - which may enable them to be more candid and assertive in providing assistance. Some of these are well-established veterans’ organizations and some might be rather evanescent in terms of their usefulness or presence on the internet:

One list from the VA’s website:
http://www.va.gov/partners/init/index.htm

Another list from the CAVC website:
www.uscourts.cavc.gov/links.php

The ABA Law Student Division has a National Veterans Service Initiative, which issued a booklet in 2008 with many useful URLs:
https://www.abanet.org/lsd/veterans/

On the assumption that readers will find the largest and best known veterans’ organizations on those resources, I here mention some less well known ....

The National Veterans Guide is published by the National Vietnam Veterans Foundation:
http://www.nationalvietnamveteransfoundation.org/

John Marshall Law School’s Veterans Legal Support Center (in Chicago):
http://www.jmls.edu/veterans/

which carries its own blog:
http://blogs.jmls.edu/Veterans/default.aspx

... this has made available, through the Illinois bar’s continuing education program, a book on “military service and the law”, which is probably equally useful outside Illinois:
https://www.iicle.com/booksandproducts/ProductDescription.aspx?ID=3200&OID=0

HadIt is a website not yet included on most of the other lists, that appears to be very helpful:
www.hadit.com

Another very informative website, whose provenance is a bit unclear but evidently associated with the VA Watchdog, is:
http://veterancourtcodes.com/

The National Business Institute offers an audio CD with a course book for its May 2009 Continuing Legal Education seminar on Obtaining Veterans Benefits. Click here as the URL is far too lengthy to reliably be typed. In case the link stops working, the main site is www.nbi-sems.com, the catalog number for this course is 49878CDRA and the price is $199, and the phone number is 800-930-6182. Purchase includes the seminar book and audio CD of the presentation.