The nation's attorneys general strongly believe in serving those who have served us. NAAG has always prioritized supporting legislation that protects and serves first responders and veterans. In addition to NAAG's advocacy work, many attorneys general have prioritized fighting scams that target veterans through their office's consumer protection work.
Restoring Veteran Service Officer (VSO) 48-hour Review Policy
In July 2020, NAAG sent a letter to the Department of Veterans Affairs expressing significant concern over the Department's decision to rescind the VSO 48-hour review policy that has been used for decades. The VSO policy served as the last opportunity to identify and correct errors in the claims process before they become part of the record used as a basis for denial of benefits or diminished awards. Rescinding the policy has lead to veterans facing unnecessary and avoidable delays in the receipt of earned benefits as mistakes not caught prior to final determination can only be rectified through a lengthy and complicated appeals process.
The attorneys general continue to call on the Department of Veterans Affairs to reinstate the policy as Congress explores legislative solutions.
Safeguarding America's First Responders Act of 2020
In May 2020, NAAG endorsed the Safeguarding America's First Responders Act of 2020. This legislation permits the families of first responders who die or are permanently and totally disabled as a result of COVID-19 to receive the same federal benefits extended to first responders, or their survivors, otherwise killed or injured in the line of duty. In short, the legislation ensures that families of officers and first responders lost while fighting the pandemic do not face unnecessary barriers to benefits by establishing a temporary presumption that COVID-19 infections will be considered to be contracted while on duty if diagnosed within 45 days of an officer’s last shift.
Just three months after 52 attorneys general joined NAAG's endorsement letter, the President signed the bill into law.
Ensuring the Discharge of Loans for Disabled Veterans
On Memorial Day weekend in 2019, NAAG sent a letter to the Department of Education calling on the Department to develop a process for automatically discharging student loans for veterans identified by the Department of Veterans Affairs as 100 percent permanently disabled or individually unemployable.
Under the Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2008, veterans rendered permanently and totally disabled as a result of their service can have their loans discharged by the Department of Education. In 2018, over 42,000 veterans were eligible for Total and Permanent Disability (TPD) discharges but less than 9,000 had completed the application.
Less than three months after the NAAG letter, the President signed a Presidential Memorandum directing the Department of Education and the Department of Veterans Affairs to streamline the loan discharge process for veterans who had a TPD discharge.