MORGANTOWN, WEST VIRGINIA – Students at WVU Law are winning benefits for the state’s veterans.
Recently, student attorneys in the Veterans Advocacy Law Clinic successfully appealed two denial of claim decisions by the United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).
The first case involved Steven McCloud of Clarksburg (left). McCloud served in the United States Navy from 1999 to 2006 and was on active duty in Afghanistan from 2001 to 2006 before being honorably discharged.
In 2016, McCloud underwent sleep studies that concluded he suffered from sleep apnea. When he applied to the VA with a service-connected disability claim and associated benefits, McCord was turned down. That’s when he reached out the Veterans Advocacy Law Clinic.
WVU Law 2018 graduate Anthony Gutta, working with 2017 graduate Brad DeFlumeri, submitted additional evidence in support of McCloud’s claim. This included obtaining and submitting relevant treatment records from the Louis A. Johnson Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Clarksburg, West Virginia.
As a result, McCloud won his appeal and the VA awarded him his service-connected disability benefits.
“The students who handled my case were confident and worked hard for me from the beginning,” said McCloud. “They always made me feel like everything was going to be in my favor. I would definitely recommend the Veterans Advocacy Law Clinic to any veterans having trouble getting their cases resolved.”
The law clinic’s second successful recent case was for Elbert McCord of Cassville, West Virginia, a decorated veteran.
McCord served in the 1990-91 Gulf War, Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm, where he suffered disabling physical injuries as the result of an in-service accident.
Following his honorable discharge from the Army, McCord could not maintain gainful employment due to his service-related disabilities. After his initial claim for benefits was denied by the VA, McCord’s case was taken up by the Veterans Advocacy Law Clinic.
Student attorneys Nicole Graybeal, Lexi Smith, Lexi Wiley and Brittany Given, all 2018 WVU Law graduates, handled McCord’s case. Their appeal included finding and filing additional evidence in support of his claim.
Ultimately, not only did the VA award McCord his benefits, they paid him a lump sum back payment of more than $40,000.
“The veterans clinic helped do something for me in six months that I had been trying to do by myself for years. It gave me a huge relief because I knew I wasn’t doing it alone anymore,” said McCord. “The students in the clinic talked me through everything and made the process much more personal. They took a weight off my shoulders, and I don’t have to struggle financially anymore.”
Student attorneys in the WVU Veterans Advocacy Law Clinic are supervised by Jennifer D. Oliva, a U.S. Army veteran and associate professor of law and public health. She has directed the clinic since 2016.