of Events and News
"Perspectives on the DSM 5 for Veterans Law
September 10, 2013, the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims Bar Association
sponsored an insightful program at the offices of the Federal Circuit
Bar Association (FCBA) titled “Perspectives on the DSM-V for Veterans
Law Practitioners”. Doctors Brian Marx and F. Barton Evans presented
on changes in the newest version of the American Psychological Association’s
Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, and what they
mean for the diagnosis and evaluation of post-traumatic stress disorder
(PTSD) and other trauma-related mental conditions.
Brian Marx, Ph.D., is a Professor of Psychiatry at Boston University
School of Medicine and staff psychologist at the National Center for
PTSD, VA Boston Healthcare System. Dr. Marx discussed the changes to
the classification and diagnostic criteria for PTSD in DSM-V. Previously
classified under “anxiety disorders”, PTSD now belongs to
the new category of “trauma and stressor related disorders”.
A catch-all diagnosis, “other specified trauma and stressor related
disorder” replaces “anxiety disorder not otherwise specified”.
This diagnosis requires exposure to trauma similar to PTSD criterion
A. A new sub-category of PTSD, dissociative, was defined, and describes
a subset of PTSD usually associated with sexual trauma and very intense
symptoms. In DSM-V there are also new and redefined symptoms and subcategories
of PTSD. For example, a sense of “foreshortened future” now
is defined as negative expectations of the future.
Dr. Marx explained the use of different tools to measure functional
impairment, such as the WHODAS 2 (World Health Organization Disability
Assessment Schedule 2.0). His slides illustrated recent research on
the validity of these questionnaires. Both Dr. Marx and Dr. Evans expressed
positive reactions to the IPF (Inventory of Psychosocial Functioning),
an 80 item self-report on the past month’s functioning which does
not ask the person to attribute a cause to their symptoms. The doctors
saw this as a benefit over the Global Assessment of Functioning (GAF)
scale which confounded symptoms and functioning. The GAF scale was removed
from DSM-V, but no particular tool was selected to replace it, with
the authors advocating for research among the long list of alternatives.
F. Barton Evans, Ph.D., is a C&P psychologist at the Charles George
VAMC and Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at George Washington University
School of Medicine. Dr. Evans discussed his experience in private practice
as a clinical and forensic psychologist, and experience as a C&P
evaluator to describe the approach of forensic psychologists, contrasted
against treating clinicians. He highlighted that diagnoses are working
hypotheses in the clinical world, and that sub-threshold PTSD (not meeting
all criteria for diagnosis) is nonetheless associated with functional
impairment. Dr. Evans also noted the need to watch for under reporting
and over reporting of symptoms, particularly under-reporting as it denotes
and is caused by avoidance and emotional numbness, two symptoms of PTSD.
In response to audience questions, both from in-person attendees and
remote participants, the doctors discussed the process of forensic psychology
in a compensation evaluation. Structured interviewing processes and
evidence-based tools were highlighted as a way to elicit the required
information, and discussion was made of the need for more time for evaluations.
The program was attended by a wide selection of CAVC bar association
members and defense and health professionals. Participants attended
both in person and online via WebEx technology, allowing participation
by CAVC bar association members located far from Washington, D.C. CLE
credit was offered for the attendees, and is offered whenever possible
for these events sponsored by the CAVC Bar Association and Federal Circuit
DSM-5 panelist bio
Evans - Perspectives on the DSM-5 for Veterans' Law Practitioners
P. Marx - Posttraumatic Stress Disorder in DSM-5
Brian P. Marx - Assessment of Functional Impairment in
Compensation and Pension Examinations
CAVC Bar Association Members honor Korean War Veterans
On Saturday, June 22, 2013 and Sunday, August 18, 2013
from 6:30 to 8:30 a.m., CAVC Bar Association members met on the National
Mall to wash the Korean War Veterans Memorial. In an effort to honor
our veterans who fought in the Korean conflict, the U.S. National Park
Service relies on volunteer groups to clean the Memorial every week
from spring through fall. Nearly 40 Bar Association members and their
children cleaned the Memorial and surrounding grounds in June and close
to 20 members worked at the rainy event in August. Armed with water
hoses, brushes, and trash bags, members scrubbed and washed the soldier
sculptures, wall and walkway, while others combed the nearby area picking
up trash or debris.
Not withstanding a few who got wet and soapy, those who took part in
this worthy event left in good spirits, not least because of the hot
coffee and donuts provided. Thank you to all who participated!
Webcasts of recent Bar Association programs
“A Look Inside the Veterans Service Organizations:Claims, Advocacy, and Beyond” – February 20, 2013"
This program discusses the role of Veterans Service Organizations (VSOs)
in the VA claims representation process, and the many other services
and programs they provide for veterans and their families - Febuary
“Representing Incarcerated Veterans” – March 20, 2013"
Panelists in this program discuss how to navigate the federal prison
system when representing incarcerated veterans; VA’s related duty to assist;
and whether there is due process in VA’s withholding of an incarcerated
service-connected veteran’s benefits - March 20, 2013.
Schedule of Events
2012 Moot Court Competition A Success!
The National Veterans Law Moot Court Competition, held in Washington,
D.C., November 3-4, 2012, was, once again, a great success.
For the second year in a row, Georgetown beat Stetson in the final round.
The two finalist teams bested teams from the South Texas College of
Law in the semi-finals. In addition to being half of the winning team,
Georgetown team member Jeffrey DeSousa also earned top oral advocate
honors. The best petitioner's brief award went to Stetson, and two teams,
the second Stetson team and a team from the South Texas College of Law,
tied for best respondent's brief.
Overall, 20 teams from 13 law schools competed in the competition, including
first-time participants the University of Missouri and the University
of Missouri - Kansas City.
The final round of the competition was judged by a bench consisting
of Judge Lawrence Hagel, Judge Margaret Bartley, and Judge William Greene,
all of the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims (CAVC). The semi-final
rounds were judged by Martin Hockey of the Department of Justice, Zachary
Stolz of Chishom Chisholm & Kilpatrick, and Cynthia Brandon-Arnold,
Senior Staff Attorney, Central Legal Staff at the CAVC. The preliminary
rounds were again judged by a mix of Court personnel, VA employees,
and members of the private bar.
Special thanks are due to all the volunteers who judged oral arguments.
The students who compete in this competition are routinely impressed
by the quality and excellence of those who volunteer to judge oral arguments.
from our Annual Meeting -- For those members who missed
this event, on Thursday, September 27, 2012, the Bar Association
held its Annual Meeting in the courtroom of the Court of Appeals
for Veterans Claims in Washington DC. Outgoing president Gayle
Strommen called the meeting to order and reflected on the association’s
many accomplishments over the past year. After dispensing with
bar association business to include accepting the minutes from
the last annual meeting and hearing the treasurer’s report
Brad Hennings, Ms. Strommen announced the results from the election of the Board
of Governors – a complete updated listing can be found on our “About
By operation of last year’s election, James Ridgway became present for
the 2012-13 fiscal year. Mr. Ridgway acknowledged the outgoing board members
prior to sharing his vision for the coming year. The Bar Association welcomed
Chief Judge Bruce E. Kasold as the key-note speaker. Chief Judge Kasold shared
an update on the State of the Court and reflected on some of our nation’s
earliest veterans from the War of 1812. A reception followed in the Court’s
We want to thank Gayle Strommen for her hard work and leadership over the past
year. We also welcome both James Ridgway, as the new president of the bar association,
as well as the newest members to the board. We look forward to a productive 2012/13.
CAVC Bar Association Members honor fallen Vietnam Veterans
On Saturday, August 25, 2012 from 6 to 8 a.m., CAVC Bar Association
members met on the National Mall to wash the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.
In an effort to honor our veterans who fought in the Vietnam conflict,
the U.S. National Park Service relies on volunteer groups to clean the
monument every week from spring through fall. Although the Bar Association
was originally scheduled to wash the Korean War Veterans Memorial, because
of a lack of water pressure related to construction on the Mall, the
Park Service invited the approximately 25 Bar Association members and
their children to clean the Vietnam Memorial and surrounding grounds
instead. Armed with water hoses, brushes, and trash bags, members scrubbed
and washed the wall while others combed the nearby area picking up trash
Not withstanding a few who got wet and soapy, those who took part in
this worthy event left in good spirits. Thank you to all who participated!
Programs Available Online
The Board of Governors voted to provide association programs
via the Internet. This feature will allow members outside the DC area to
connect and participate in programs. We are offering all Q&A
Forums as well as CLE Program via web cast. In order
to participate online, you need a computer, a high-speed Internet connection,
a telephone connection and/or computer speakers for audio. As we
send out notices for the programs, you will be directed as to the availability
and cost for the online web cast. Membership participation
will dictate this benefits continued availability.
Oral Arguments Online
Oral arguments audio clips are now available on the CAVC website,
the next business day following the argument. The
schedule for CAVC oral arguments can be found on their website.
Click here to
visit the courts oral arguments page.
Practitioners are encouraged to take advantage of this opportunity
and valuable resource. Listening to oral arguments is an educational resource that can assist association members in being better prepared for oral argument. Access to oral arguments online provides members the opportunity to hear important issues, to review case law and to analyze the process being discussed from different perspectives. Appellants
and other interested parties will be afforded the opportunity
to listen to the argument online.