2020 Grantee Case Update From National Veterans Legal Services Program

Barbara McDowell Foundation 2020 Grantee, National Veterans Legal Services Program, shares the following press release regarding an update to their grant funded case:

Dechert and the National Veterans Legal Services Program Sue the U.S. Navy For Shortchanging Veterans Discharged for Disabilities

-More Than 16,000 Navy and Marine Corps Veterans Wrongfully Denied Disability Retirement Benefits-

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: November 10, 2020

WASHINGTON -- On November 10, Dechert LLP, in coordination with the National Veterans Legal Services Program (NVLSP), filed a class action complaint in the United States Court for the District of the District of Columbia, on behalf of former members of the Navy and Marine Corps who were subject to an unlawful Navy practice that resulted in the denial of military disability retirement benefits to more than 16,000 Navy and Marine Corps veterans for more than 15 years. Military disability retirement benefits are critical to veterans who are injured during their military service, and who depend on them for access to healthcare and other benefits for the service member and his or her family. The complaint, brought under the Administrative Procedure Act, seeks declaratory and injunctive relief to correct these veterans’ military records to accurately reflect their full disability rating as required by law.

“In this filing we seek to address the Navy’s failure to fully recognize and afford benefits to Navy and Marine Corps veterans for service-connected disabilities that contributed to their medical discharge,” said Phillip Garber, Dechert associate and former hospital corpsman second class in the U.S. Navy. “This filing reflects the continued commitment of NVLSP and Dechert, through the activities of its veteran affinity group, Dechert Heroes, to assisting the veteran community by making sure that veterans receive the benefits they have earned through military service and are entitled to under the law.”

“When they enter the military, every service member takes a solemn oath to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States of America. The government also pledges to provide them with certain rights and benefits if they are injured or become sick due to their military service. Unfortunately, the Navy has disregarded the men and women in the military by systematically and illegally denying the benefits to which thousands of servicemembers and their families are rightfully entitled,” said National Veterans Legal Services Program Executive Director Bart Stichman. “The Navy’s denial of benefits is not simply a bureaucratic matter. A denial can have negative repercussions in the lives of servicemembers and their families for many years.”

The Dechert pro bono team includes partner Christina Sarchio, counsel Danielle Gentin Stock, associates Phillip Garber, Peter Larson, Jenna Newmark and Brittany Zoll, and paralegal Michael Lebair.

The NVLSP team includes Executive Director Bart Stichman, Pro Bono Director Rochelle Bobroff, and Senior Staff Attorneys Esther Leibfarth and David Sonenshine.

(November 2020)