IMPORTANT/URGENT INFORMATION FOR ALL POST SERVICE OFFICERS WITHIN THE DEPARTMENT OF NEW HAMPSHIRE Comrades, Within the last few days, there has been a very significant, important change made to the way we conduct our duties here in the Service Office, which also affects each of you Post Service Officers across our Department…
Even though this topic will be discussed at our upcoming OTI Session in August, these changes go into effect before then, so please, take some time to read the information below, which comes from our National Veterans Service Headquarters in Washington,D.C.
In brief, this is what the below message means, and what will be important for each of you to know, as a result of these new changes: -These changes have come about, at least in part, as a result of actions that took place in another department. These changes are in no way due to anything any of you have done wrong here in our Department, Comrades.
-The form that we normally use that allows us to legally represent a veteran or a widow of a client is known as a VA FORM 21-22:APPOINTMENT OF VETERAN’S SERVICE ORGANIZATION AS CLAIMANT’S REPRESENTATIVE.
Those of you who have worked through our office in the past, or still do work with us may recall that we are required by regulations to have a client sign one before we can operate on a client’s behalf. What’s most important for you Post Service Officers out in the field to know about the revised Power Of Attorney (POA) Form is that in order for it to be a valid , Legally-Binding document now, it must also be approved and signed by myself: your Department Service Officer, before the VA will accept the form.
If you please click on the link provided to view the revised POA form contained in the message below, and take a moment to locate Block #17 (“Signature of Veteran’s Service Organization Representative”), you will see that my signature must go just below that of our client’s now.
-IN A NUTSHELL, what this means for each of you at Post level is, that you can no longer print out and have a veteran or widow sign one of these forms , and send it in to the VA, in order to have the VA process a claim for them. If the form does not include my signature, but lists the VFW as their representative, the form will not be valid, and likely will be returned to the veteran or widow who filled it out in the first place.
-If you have a veteran or widow who needs our assistance, we ask that you please CONTACT US FIRST , before filling out any forms, in order to avoid any potential issues with the VA, and so we can help you assist the veteran or widow.
**-Part of the reason this change has gone into place is because as part of our official National Veterans’ Service Policy, we are not permitted to accept POA’s from the following groups of veterans:
a.)Veterans who we have had to Revoke their Power Of Attorney (POA) with our organization because of things such as :Misconduct, Attempting to file Fraudulent Claims with the VA, or Failing to Cooperate with us, to allow us and the VA to process their claim(s), and they make the decision to attempt to ask that the VFW represent them again, despite that.
b.)Veterans who already have claims that are on Appeal, and are currently at the Board of Veteran’s Appeals (BVA), down in Washington, D.C. ,awaiting a decision from a Veterans Law Judge. Once an Appeal has been filed, it is too late for our organization to jump in to represent the client at that point.
…Sadly, it has been our experience that some veterans are not always forthcoming about details like these, when they come to the VFW (both at office and post levels) for help, because they usually understand that , if we knew this information, we could not assist them at that point. We have discovered some veterans have been less than thruthful with some of you at Post Level over the years, which is in no way your fault, Comrades. Unfortunately, we do encounter fellow veterans who are not always as honest as each of you are out there.
The changes in the POA form make it easier for us here at the Service Office to first verify the following information before taking on a new client:
1.)Whether they are already represented by another veteran’s organization.
2.)Whether we have previously revoked their POA with us due to some form of Misconduct.
3.)Whether or not they have any cases already active, and in process.
4.)Whether or not any of their active claims are in ‘APPEAL’ status at that time. These changes are meant to ensure that we know exactly who we are representing more accurately, at Service Office level, and also help the VA to know exactly who we are representing,as well.
As always, Comrades, if you have any questions or concerns, please contact us here at the Service Office, so that we can give you the correct guidance in situations you may face there at your posts. Here’s our contact information, in case you do not already have it handy: email: firstname.lastname@example.org phone: (603) 222-5780 fax: (603) 222-5783
If you have any questions or concerns, please contact us…and, attendance at our upcoming OTI session in August is STRONGLY ENCOURAGED, in light of the recent changes the VA has put into affect recently. Your help and support of the Service Office is always greatly appreciated. Yours in Comradeship, John Barrett Department Service Officer
________________________________________ From: Theresa Aldana [mailto:email@example.com] On Behalf Of Gerald T. Manar Sent: Thursday, June 21, 2012 11:58 AM Subject: **URGENT UPDDATE **Re: Fast Ltr 12-16, Revision of VA Form 21-22 Importance: High Fast Letter 12-16, Revision of VA Form 21-22, Appointment of Veterans Service Organization as Claimant’s Representative, June 20, 2012 This Fast Letter implements changes required by 38 CFR 14.631(a). Specifically, a service organization representative must accept the appointment, in writing, of a Power of Attorney before it is legally binding on the service organization and the VA. VA revised its Form 21-22 in January 2012 to include a signature block for this purpose.
There are at least two problems which must be addressed by Department Service Officers immediately: Education of CVSO’s and PSO’s FL 12-16 was issued without advance notice to VSO’s. Although we knew this change was coming, we did not know the date it would take effect. As a consequence, the effective date of the change, June 20, 2012, took many service officers by surprise.
“The latest version of the VA Form 21-22 is dated February 2012. Due to significant revisions to the VA Form 21-22, prior versions of the form will no longer be accepted as of the date of this letter. Prior versions of the form that were processed and placed in claims folders prior to the date of this letter remain valid.”
Department Service Officers must make every effort to ensure that all VFW accredited representatives within your Department (e.g., county veteran service officers; PSO’s) comply fully with this change.
The current version of VA Form 21-22 can be found at: http://www.vba.va.gov/pubs/forms/VBA-21-22-ARE.pdf
Required E-Mail address Page 2, paragraph 1 of FL 12-16 states that Block 3C of the new form requires the E-Mail address of the organization named in block 3A. “Do not update BIRLS or any other VA electronic system with the VSO’s appointment unless the VA Form 21-22 contains a VSO signature. Items 3A through 3C and 17 and 18 MUST be completed in order for the VA Form 21-22 to be valid.” DO NOT USE ANY GENERAL VFW E-MAIL ADDRESS.
If you have not done so already, ask VA to create a VFW email account for your office. Ensure that you have the authority to provide access to at least one other staff member in your office. Once established, this should be the email address shown in Block 3C. It will be your responsibility to check the VFW email account daily in order to evaluate and respond, as appropriate, to any emails which appear in that account. In your absence, one or more members of your staff should check that account at least once a day and respond to those emails as appropriate.
We have learned that VA announced today that it would delay enforcement of the requirements of FL 12-16 for 30-60 days so that service officers have the time to educate CVSO’s and others about these changes. DSO’s must take action now to ensure that the new VA Form 21-22 is used and properly completed by all VFW accredited service officers in their jurisdiction.
Jerry Manar Deputy Director National Veterans Service Veterans of Foreign Wars
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