When the Veterans Law Blog® started in 2007, there was nothing like it.
I was the only lawyer teaching veterans – on a blog – how to improve and hopefully win their VA claims and appeals.
Thirteen years later, this blog reaches hundreds of thousands of veterans every month, across a half dozen platforms.
More important, though, is this: a law firm that does not have a blog providing their perspective on veterans law is not considered a serious player in the sphere of veterans advocacy.
Whether it is the blog itself, the Sleep Apnea Field Manual, or the VA claims training videos and webinars…the Veterans Law Blog® has always been at the front of the pack, leading the way in veterans law.
For all that writing, and for all the growth of this blog’s popularity, that pack hasn’t grown in size. 13 years ago, only 25% of veterans took advantage of compensation and other benefits from the VA.
Today, that number remains the same: only about 1 in 4 veterans take advantage of the benefits available to them as they work to reintegrate into civilian life.
This phenomena has been on my mind this past summer.
Where are the other 75%? Why aren’t more veterans interested in taking advantage of what I have found to be game-changing – and life-changing – benefits?
I think I know the answer.
It’s not that the other 75-percent are rich, self-sufficient, or otherwise not in need of the benefits. Although there are many who meet that description.
It’s not that they are libertarians, or prideful, and opposed to taking any support of assistance from their fellow countrymen. Although there are many who meet that description.
I believe that those 3 out of 4 vets do not take advantage of the support available to them because they’ve been shut out of the conversation.
The American public thinks of vets in one of three ways: the bold (and almost exclusively white) Captain America, the PTSD-ravaged Punisher, or the toxic male facebook warrior spewing MAGAt* flith, blindly worshipping guns and flags.
So many veterans have no place in that “brand.”
I know I don’t. Do you?
Black veterans are not part of the discussion when it comes to improving access to health care options.
Female veterans are not part of the discussion when it comes to helping veterans open doors and break through personal, athletic, and professional glass ceilings .
Many vets who identify as LGBT still feel that “Don’t ask Don’t Tell” is the safest option when around other vets and in many parts of the country at the VA.
And any veteran that wants to cut the umbilical cord to the military lifestyle and culture so they can fully integrate into civilian life is told, “You’re not a real veteran. We don’t do that.”
I am going to kick open the doors on our community, let in the sunlight of fresh ideas and faces, and invite you to join a dialogue about what it really means to be a veteran.
In the next few weeks, I plan to launch a podcast called “The Real Veteran.”
My goal is to begin the work of reshaping and redefining the veteran “brand.”
I am going to do it using fresh, diverse and new voices.
I am going to do it using the principles that brought so many of you success in your VA claims: Knowledge is power. You have more power than you think. Fix ourselves, and the system HAS to follow suit. Plan actions, not outcomes. And more.
And – of course – I will share great legal content on the podcast as well, from discussions of changes in and updates to veterans law to helping advocates build a sustainable business or practice that makes the advocate’s well-being the highest priority.
If you’d like to learn more about the podcast, or if you’d like to join the discussion about what makes a “real veteran,” please sign up below to get launch related updates on the podcast.
* MAGAt – The sheep blindly following the ignorant Impeached President, MAGAts are incapable of civil, intelligent and empathetic discussions; they are too busy acting like bullies, racists and, in a word, assholes. MAGAts are not welcome here: if you are one, please leave now.