Advocating for Veterans Benefits Through VSO Training


Earlier this month, I was honored to sponsor the annual conference of the National Association of County Veterans Service Officers in Madison, Wisconsin. The event drew more than 500 veterans service officers from across the United States. 

The mission of the NACVSO is to advocate for veterans benefits and those of their families. The organization trains and educates county veterans service officers and veterans advocates on how to prepare VA claims, and how to submit them to the Department of Veterans Affairs. Its vision is to have trained CVSOs in every state.

My colleague, Danielle DiPietro, who is a financial advocate and VA-accredited claims agent at The Mesothelioma Center at, joined me at the conference.

We hope our participation will lead to increased training of CVSOs, so we can all better support this nation’s veterans when they most need it.

Accomplishing Outreach at Conference

Danielle and I set up a table at the conference and spoke with more than 100 CVSOs over the four days we spent in Madison. We provided pamphlets and other information about what we do at the Veterans Department at 

I held a 20-minute presentation detailing how our organization helps veterans diagnosed with mesothelioma, an aggressive asbestos-related cancer that disproportionately affects veterans. I also gave the CVSOs strategies on how to develop asbestos-related VA claims.

According to the 2022 census, veterans account for 6.4% of the U.S. population, but they represent about 30% of all mesothelioma legal claims. Many military veterans were exposed to asbestos during their service because the toxic substance was used in almost all military bases, ships and other vessels. Asbestos was also used in barracks, boilers, steam pipes, brakes and insulation, among other common military locations and products.

Conference attendees at tables
Participants gather at the National Association of County Veterans Service Officers in Madison, Wisconsin.

Looking Ahead to the Next Conference

Although the next annual conference will be held in May in Denver, Colorado, we are holding training sessions ahead of it.

We currently scheduled four in-person training sessions for fall, and we’re looking to support additional state training events. I will be providing training sessions in September and October in Illinois, Florida, North Dakota and Wisconsin. If you are a state training coordinator for your state and would like to learn more about our free training class for VSOs, or would like to see if we can support your training, please reach out to me.

Since the conference, our Veterans Department has been working with VSOs who contacted us for assistance on claims they are working on. We have also spoken with several veterans who were referred to us for help by their VSOs.

Attend Our Upcoming Virtual Training Session

I am doing a free virtual training class June 22 at 3 p.m. EST for VSOs who attended the conference. The hour-long class will cover how to submit fully developed claims for asbestos-related diseases. Topics covered include asbestos-related conditions, diagnostic testing and doctors, medical nexus letters and asbestos exposure summaries.

If you would like to attend the virtual class, please email me. I will add you to the roster and email you the training session link and training materials. 

We will continue to offer virtual training to connect with VSOs in states where in-person training is not scheduled this year. If you would like to schedule a training session for your state, district, or county office, please contact me to coordinate.

If you are working with a veteran and need information or materials to support developing an asbestos-related disability or DIC claim, please contact our team for assistance.