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Appeals Court for Veterans to Hear Case at W&L Law

On Wednesday, April 2, Washington and Lee School of Law will host the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims. The event will begin at 9:30 a.m. with an introduction and remarks from the Clerk of Court. The Court will then convene at 10:00 a.m. to hear a case on its docket involving a veteran’s benefits claim with its origins in World War II.

The session will take place in the Millhiser Moot Court Room, Sydney Lewis Hall on the campus of Washington and Lee University. The hearing will last one hour and be followed by a question and answer session with the judges. The event is free and open to the public.

During the session, the Court will hear arguments in the matter of Juliet T. Tagupa v. Secretary of Veterans Affairs. Mrs. Tagupa filed a claim for benefits in 2008, contending that her husband, who died in 1993, had served with the Filipino guerillas in the service of the Armed Forces of the United States during World War II. The Manila, Philippines VA regional office (RO), acting on information from the National Personnel Records Center (NPRC), denied the claim because there was no record of Mr. Tagupa’s service in the Philippine Commonwealth Army, including the recognized guerillas in service of the United States Armed Forces.

After the RO’s denial, Mrs. Tagupa submitted her husband’s identification card for the Anderson Fil-American Guerillas that noted that he had active participation in the anti-Japanese resistance movement. She also submitted affidavits from comrades testifying to his service and informed the VA that the previous requests for service verification sent to the NPRC used the wrong service number for her husband. The VA then submitted another request to NPRC that included Mr. Tagupa’s Fil-American Guerilla identification card and affidavits from his comrades.

The NPRC responded that this information did not warrant a change of its previous determination. On appeal, the Board of Veterans’ Appeals determined that Mr. Tagupa did not have the requisite active military service for status as a veteran and denied Mrs. Tagupa VA benefits.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims is part of the U.S. judiciary and not part of the Department of Veterans Affairs. The Court has exclusive jurisdiction over decisions of the Board of Veterans’ Appeals of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. The Court reviews Board decisions appealed by claimants who believe the Board erred in its decision.

The Court’s principal office is in Washington, D.C., but the Court is authorized to sit anywhere in the United States and does so a limited number of times each year.