In October 2022, The American Legion and law firm Bergmann & Moore entered into a memorandum of understanding to help Legionnaires understand the Camp Lejeune Justice Act (CLJA), which allows certain veterans to collect damages from the federal government due to their exposure to contaminated water on the Marine Corps base. Qualified claimants had to have served at least 30 days at Camp Lejeune, N.C., between Aug. 1, 1953, and Dec. 31, 1987.
Bergmann & Moore is ensuring that Legion members receive the maximum benefits allowed under the law while protecting against predatory and/or unscrupulous actors, and that veterans and family members understand there are two distinct remedies provided under the law – a VA disability/care remedy and a one-time CLJA benefit.
“Large law firms have spent hundreds of millions of dollars trying to attract veterans and family members to represent them in these toxic water claims,” said Glen Bergmann, managing partner at Bergmann & Moore to Legion Family members Feb. 28 at the Commander’s Call during the Washington Conference. “CLJA is distinct from VA benefits. I’m here to ensure that there is an accurate message because there is a lot of mixed messaging, and we are trying to prevent Legion members and their family members from hearing the wrong information, from making mistakes and ensuring that they get the greatest benefits under the law.”
The firm, which was founded in 2004 by former VA employees and has been providing American Legion service officer training and legal consultation since 2017, has been placing ads in The American Legion Magazine on frequently asked questions about CLJA. “Please pay attention to these because they are the facts about the CLJA,” Bergmann emphasized.
Bergmann & Moore has a dedicated Camp Lejeune Water Contamination Lawsuit website for Legionnaires and their family members to explain their circumstances. They also have a phone number – 800-898-9450 – that is open 24 hours. Annita Best, a retired Marine colonel and CLJA coordinator for Bergmann & Moore, informed Legionnaires that if they have a claim to first contact an American Legion service officer. Find a service officer here.
Since 2017, Bergmann & Moore has trained 2,059 American Legion department service officers which help veterans and their families with VA benefits claims at no cost. And with the Legion’s new National Service Officer School that Bergmann & Moore launched in July 2022, there have been 234 Legion service officer graduates. NSO School is intended for Legionnaires who have recently become accredited as legal representatives by VA’s Office of General Counsel or are in the process of becoming accredited.
Bergmann & Moore provides no-cost representation to Legionnaires, family members and others with The American Legion who wish to pursue an appeal of a VA benefits denial from VA’s Board of Veterans Appeals to the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims.
“We have represented The American Legion 4,462 times in federal court, and we have been successful 4,448 times,” Bergmann said. “This is an incredible number that represents a 99.7 success rate of Legion members before the court. This is not only a testimony of our staff, it’s also a testimony of your department service officers making excellent arguments, bringing the right cases up so that we can appeal them and get benefits for Legionnaires and their family members.”