Law Firm Holds Free Workshop to Assist Desperate Veterans in Puerto Rico

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Bergmann & Moore, a law firm that specializes in VA appeals, will be hosting two Veterans Benefits Workshops in Puerto Rico on Oct. 15 and Oct. 17. Veterans will have access to free legal advice as well as information about services that can assist with employment and health care.

Glenn Bergmann of Bergmann & Moore assists a Veteran during a June workshop hosted by the law firm in San Juan.

It is a tragedy that so many Veterans are homeless and struggling simply to survive while their claims are processing. They earned these benefits. It is only fair that they have access to the services that will help them get back on their feet.

“Delay, Deny and Hope That I Die.” For many Veterans, this seems to be the mantra of the Department of Veterans Affairs, according to a 2010 report by CBS News.

Many Puerto Rican Veterans already know it is sometimes much easier to give up rather than attempt to navigate VA’s claims process. The system, and the Regional Office (RO) in San Juan, are drowning in paperwork and constantly criticized for improperly handling thousands of Veteran’s claims each year.

A 2009 study by the VA Office of Inspector General found that the San Juan RO only had a 60 percent accuracy rate for rating decisions – this is the lowest rate in the nation. It now takes the VA an average of a year or more to process a Veteran’s initial claim. If that claim is denied, which happens frequently when Veteran’s don’t have any assistance in navigating the system, the appeals process can take years or even decades to complete.

For Veterans who are already struggling because of a disability, this wait can be the difference between having a roof over their head or being forced to live on the streets.

“Many of these men and women sacrificed their health and livelihood when they signed up to fight for this country,” said Carrie Weletz, an attorney at Bergmann & Moore, a law firm that specializes in VA appeals. “It is a tragedy that so many Veterans are homeless and struggling simply to survive while their claims are processing. They earned these benefits. It is only fair that they have access to the services that will help them get back on their feet.”

While the daunting task of dealing with the VA might turn many away, another roadblock to helping Veterans is a lack of knowledge.

According to the VA, its San Juan RO serves about 150,000 to 200,000 Veterans in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. This number, unfortunately is likely not very accurate. Resident Commissioner Pedro Pierluisi, Puerto Rico’s representative in the U.S. House of Representatives, has stated that it is well known that there are many more Veterans living on the island than in the official estimate.

Bergmann & Moore wants to inform Veterans about the benefits they have earned and provide legal assistance when applications for these benefits are denied.

Attorney Weletz and additional staff will be on hand at two Veterans Benefits Workshops in Puerto Rico this month to provide free VA claims advice and introduce Veterans to job assistance and healthcare services that they might not have known about. Organizations like the Department of Labor, the Department of Agriculture, and Caribbean Women Veterans will also be in attendance. The main goal of the workshops is to provide Veterans with information about the services available to them.

Ponce workshop
The first free workshop will be held on Saturday, Oct. 15, at El Senorial Centro de Convenciones, 2313 Ave Eduardo Ruberte in Ponce. It is expected to run from 9 am until 3 pm.

San Juan (Rio Piedras) workshop
The second will be held on Monday, Oct. 17 from 10 am until 3 pm at Fundacion Centro para Puerto Rico, 1012 Calle Gonzalez Urb. Santa Rita in Rio Piedras.

Both events will be free, open to all Veterans and handicap accessible. Light refreshments will be served at both workshops. For more information, please visit http://www.vetlawyers.com or call toll-free (877) 367-5310.

About Bergmann & Moore
Bergmann & Moore is a law firm managed by experienced former VA attorneys who focus exclusively on Veterans disability claims. Based in the Washington, D.C. area, we are a national practice, representing Veterans from all over the country.

They offer representation at all levels of the Department of Veterans Affairs administrative process, as well as in the Federal court system, at the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims, and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. They focus solely on Veterans law and remain current on Veteran-related issues, claims, and benefits.

For more information about the law office of Bergmann & Moore, please visit:
http://www.vetlawyers.com.

Press Contact:
Carrie Weletz
cweletz(at)vetlawyers(dot)com
(877) 838-2889 or (301) 290-3108

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Carrie Weletz