Over the last few years, unaccredited representatives have bombarded veterans with advertisements on how they can assist and expedite their Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) disability claim. With massive marketing budgets and deceptive tactics, these businesses have continued to overpromise and underdeliver for veterans.
Unaccredited companies do not have to perform background checks on their employees and cannot be held liable if a veteran complains about the service they received. They prey on a veterans’ frustration with the VA claims process and charge extravagant rates and fees for their assistance.
Unaccredited representatives have proliferated since the signing of the Honoring our PACT Act last August. The PACT Act, which was championed through years of DAV advocacy efforts, is the largest and most comprehensive expansion of veterans benefits for toxic and environmental exposures. It reduces bureaucratic obstacles for an estimated 3.5 million veterans who seek VA benefits due to burn pit exposures during the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and other hostile locations.
The law added new presumptive conditions related to burn pit exposure, meaning veterans who served in overseas locations with active burn pits no longer have to prove their exposure or establish direct service connection if diagnosed with ailments listed in the law that are known to cause such conditions.
In its first year, veterans and their survivors have filed more than 770,000 PACT Act-related claims with the VA. The filing period to receive retroactive compensation for PACT Act claims ended in August, and all claims submitted moving forward will be based on their filing date.
But with more than 1 out of 7 eligible veterans already filing a PACT Act-related claim, DAV outreach efforts are off to a good start. However, we must continue to work to ensure every veteran knows about these new benefits and how they can file a VA claim for free with expert representation.
To help veterans avoid becoming a target of an unaccredited actor, make sure you refer them to our information seminar schedule or their nearest DAV service office. That information can be found on our website, dav.org.
Our national service officers are experts in veteran benefits and provide best-in-class service, free of charge. DAV departments and chapters also have additional capacity to provide assistance with their volunteer service officers.
One of the most effective methods of outreach from our departments and chapters is hosting information seminars in their community. Information seminars allow DAV to educate veterans and their families on the full suite of benefits that are potentially available to them, including as related to the PACT Act.
These events are essential to combating unaccredited representatives who are trying to siphon the disability compensation that veterans have rightfully earned.
To request an information seminar, departments and chapters can contact their nearest national service office to schedule an event.
You can find the 2023 information seminar schedule at
dav.org/get-help-now/veteran-topics-resources/information-seminars/ or contact your nearest DAV service office by visiting benefitsquestions.org.