Justice for Veterans

Reprinted from PN August 2007

The U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims may docket 4,000 cases this year, as its judges seek to rule in an efficient way.

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From the outside, the building at 625 Indiana Avenue in Washington, D.C., looks much like an office building in any city. But the U.S. Capitol is visible seven blocks to the east, federal and local courthouses are all around, and museums and federal agencies line the neighboring streets, so there is no mistaking that this is the kind of place where important decisions are made every day. This is the home of the United States Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims.

The Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims was created in November 1988 so veterans, like all other applicants for government benefits, could have judicial review if the government denied their claims. The Court's role in veterans' issues quickly evolved into a critical one. Congress watches the Court and monitors its decisions, and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) can be sure any controversial issue will ultimately come before the Court.

It is important to remember that this is an appellate courtthere is no jury, no witnesses, and no courtroom theatrics. Cases are mainly decided on written briefs.

The Court's jurisdiction is limited; it can only hear cases veterans have appealed after being denied by the Board of Veterans' Appeals. Despite this limitation, according to the Court's Chief Judge, William P. Greene, the Court's caseload has been steadily increasing: the Court is likely to docket nearly 4,000 appeals this year, nearly double the number from about ten years ago.

Seven judges serve on the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims, one of whom is a former general counsel of PVA. Learn more about the judges and find out how the appeals process works.


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