The Stateside Legal Advocate Tool Kit
Here are resources that we find helpful in advocating for veterans, service members and their families. You may want to book-mark this page for easy reference.
We have also created four smaller tool kits, focusing on veterans, active military, and tax issues:
- NEW! VA Disability Compensation Claims Toolkit
- VA Advocate Tool Kit
- Military Advocate Tool Kit
- Tax Advocate Tool Kit
Military records: Proof of military service is essential. The National Archives maintains detailed information about the process of documenting military service. Your client or their "next of kin" can do this via the "E-Vets" portal maintained by the National Archive. If you are not the veteran or next of kin, you must complete the Standard Form 180 (SF 180) to request this information.
The Military Commander and the Law. This current 736 page guide is designed as a desktop reference for JAG officers. It includes information on various legal issues specific to current military members and their families, with appropriate statutory citations.
The American Veterans and Servicemembers Survival Guide. This 649 page guide, edited by David Addlestone and Craig Kubey with contributions from over 20 legal experts, covers a very wide variety of legal issues important to this client population. It was originally developed for Veterans for America and is now hosted online by the National Veterans Legal Services Program. Please note that the Guide has not been updated since 2009.
The Law Review Library maintained by Captain Sam Wright of the Reserve Officers Association, covering a wide range of topics with special emphasis on USERRA and SCRA protections.
GAO reports on VA and Department of Defense programs and services: These reports contain valuable background information and explanations on many of the most significant VA and Dept of Defense benefits;
Justice for Vets offers a clearinghouse website and other resources for those interested in veteran treatment courts. They are organizing a national conference on these issues in December 2013.
Federal Statutes and Regulations
Code of Federal Regulations: Go here to view the complete CFR directory of federal regulations. The following are short-cuts to some volumes that may be particularly useful:
Military Legal Resources
Department of Defense web portal for official directives, forms, instructions and other resources.
Department of Defense Servicemember Database (to confirm military status of a particular individual)
The Coast Guard Legal Program website: a listing of materials designed for Coast Guard JAG and military legal assistance officers;
A searchable database of U.S. Army regulations;
Searchable library of military legal resources: This list is maintained by the Library of Congress
Joint Federal Travel Regulations: These regulations can be important in handling claims related to active duty service member and their families;
Military Legal Journals: The "Army Lawyer" and "Military Law Journal" publish law review-type articles on various legal issues, with a searchable database.
VA Legal Resources
VA forms: a searchable directory of all VA forms, including those available as fillable PDFs.
VA Administrative Handbooks: These may provide useful authority in advocating on behalf of a veteran whose claim (for any type of benefit/service) is before the VA.
Veterans Benefits Administration References: The web-automated reference materials system (WARMS) used by VA staff;
Board of VA Appeals Decisions: This searchable database of BVA decisions can be sorted by topic or year issued.
Opinions of the VA General Counsel: Precedent Opinions of the Office of VA General Counsel are available according to the year in which they were issued. They are searchable by topic if you modify the search engine functionality on the top right of the page to search "current site only."
U.S. Court of Veterans Appeals: The Court website includes Court forms, a searchable database of attorneys and advocates qualified to appear before it, and Court decisions and opinions.