Isakson Applauds Strong Nominees for VA Benefits, Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., chairman of the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, on Wednesday held a hearing to consider the qualifications of Paul R. Lawrence, nominated to serve as undersecretary for benefits of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), and Joseph L. Falvey, Jr., nominated to be a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims.
At the hearing, Isakson noted that each possessed the experience and qualifications needed to excel in their respective roles.
“Both nominees have exemplary records that prepare them greatly for the tasks ahead,” said Isakson. “I have full confidence that each nominee will use their vast experience to do great work on behalf of our nation’s veterans. If confirmed, I look forward to working with each of them in their future roles at the VA and the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims.”
The VA has been without a permanent undersecretary for benefits since October 2015, and at a Jan. 17, 2018, hearing, Isakson called on then-VA Secretary Dr. David Shulkin to outline progress on filling vacancies in critical VA positions, including the undersecretary for benefits position.
The undersecretary for benefits is the senior official within the Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA) who oversees a variety of benefits and services to service members, veterans and their families.
“One of our greatest obligations as elected officials is to ensure the seamless transition into civilian life for our veterans,” said Isakson. “Part of providing that high quality care is ensuring there are officials appointed to key leadership positions that are capable and able to oversee and manage the organization.”
Lawrence is a vice president at Kaiser Associates and has three decades of experience solving management problems in federal government organizations.
“Dr. Lawrence’s vast experience and leadership skills will help lead the way to a better, more responsive VA – one that is working day and night for our veterans, just like they worked day and night for us when they served our country,” said Isakson.
This year marks the 30th anniversary of the establishment of the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims, which has an important role in ensuring justice for veterans and their families seeking benefits.
Falvey, nominated to a 15-year appointment as a judge on the court, is a 30-year veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps and is currently serving as district counsel for the Detroit District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. He has three decades of experience in academia and the practice of law.
If Falvey is confirmed, the bench of the VA Claims Court will be full for the first time in nearly three years, improving the court’s ability to manage its caseload and provide veterans with timely resolution of cases.
“Mr. Falvey’s expertise will be immeasurable in improving the appeals process, which is critical for a healthy VA,” said Isakson. “Mr. Falvey will now make the ninth sitting judge. Now, for the first time in three years, we will have a full court, and not having enough manpower will no longer be an excuse. We want to use that manpower, woman power and legal power to get the [appeals of decisions on claims] backlog resolved as quickly as possible and have a much better and more responsive appeals process for our veterans.”
Isakson announced at Wednesday’s hearing that a committee vote on the nominations of Lawrence and Falvey will be held soon.
The Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs is chaired by U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., in the 115th Congress. Isakson is a veteran himself – having served in the Georgia Air National Guard from 1966-1972 – and has been a member of the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs since he joined the Senate in 2005. Isakson’s home state of Georgia is home to more than a dozen military installations representing each branch of the armed services as well as more than 750,000 veterans.