NVLSP Impact Report

It’s a marathon—it’s not a sprint. The long process can be extremely draining for a veteran.

case with Lily North, an attorney with law firm Dechert LLP . NVLSP worked with North to secure the services of two mental health specialists.The two put Maldonado through an intensive, comprehensive psychological evaluation, interviewed three of Maldonado’s siblings and her current therapist, and reviewed her extensive military and prior mental health records.They then authored a 13-page, single-spaced, psychological evaluation report that, contrary to the 2014 VA examiner’s opinion, concluded that Maldonado suffered from PTSD and major depressive disorder due to the in-service sexual assault. North then perfected Maldonado’s appeal to the Board of Veterans’ Appeals by filing a detailed brief along with the psychological evaluation report. She argued that the overwhelming weight of the medical evidence demonstrated that the claim should be granted. In 2016, however, the Board disagreed.The Board sent the case back for another VA medical examination.

The new VA medical examiner sided with the report and Maldonado’s other private psychologists, and eight years after the claim was filed, the VA finally awarded service connection for PTSD with major depressive disorder, and she was rated 70 percent disabled. She received disability payments from the date of her initial claim filing in 2009, which amounted to a sizable award. But North didn’t stop there. She appealed Maldonado’s disability rating and filed a supplemental brief. Maldonado’s award was

upgraded to a 100 percent disability rating in January 2018—confirming her inability to maintain employment, and netting additional disability benefits to help Maldonado. “Perseverance is a lot of the battle,” said North. “For veterans like Maldonado, it’s a marathon—it’s not a sprint.The long process can be extremely draining for a veteran.” “It’s a long road to restitution,” said Maldonado. “It has taken 37 years, but I’m finally able to leave behind the military betrayal I felt from the sexual assault, the way I was treated by my unit after the assault, and by the VA when I first filed my claim and was denied.” For this veteran, the fight is finally over. H

“It has taken 37 years, but I’m finally able to leave behind the betrayal I felt from the military, my unit, and the VA .”



National Veterans Legal Services Program H

Impact Report

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