On Demand Audio

Advocating for Honorable Character of Discharge Determinations to Access VA Health Care

Produced on November 12, 2020

Taught by
$ 89 Veterans In Stock
Get started now

$299 / year - Access to this Course and 1,500+ Lawline courses


Course Information

Time 1h 3m
Difficulty Intermediate
Topics covered in this course: Veterans

Course Description

There are a multitude of factors that determine whether or not a former servicemember will qualify for Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) health care and services, and be deemed a “veteran” by the VA the under Title 38 of the U.S. Code. Having enough time in service and having an other-than-dishonorable discharge are two of the biggest hurdles. However, “other-than-dishonorable” is only the threshold and does not mean what it sounds like. One might think if you don’t have a dishonorable discharge you could enroll in the VA, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. There are statutory and regulatory bars and there are exceptions for all of them. Putting aside disability benefits, just getting in the door at the VA can be very complicated.

In this session, Coco Culhane, executive director of the Veteran Advocacy Project, will review the main elements of VA health care eligibility and examine each of the statutory and regulatory bars to accessing the VA. She will lay out the basics for any lawyer to advocate for their client to receive an honorable character of discharge (COD) determination from the VA, and will cover one of the most important exceptions to these bars: VA’s definition of “insanity.” Finally, she will identify other ways veterans can access the VA health care system, with a focus on mental health treatment.

Learning Objectives:

  1. Understand the basic eligibility requirements for VA enrollment
  2. Review and analyze the statutory and regulatory bars to VA health care
  3. Learn how to advocate for veterans who need character of discharge determinations made by the VA, including using the VA’s definition of “insanity”
  4. Identify ways that veterans with less than honorable discharges can still get limited health care at the VA

Credit Information

After completing this course, Lawline will report your attendance information to {{ accredMasterState.state.name }}. Please ensure your license number is filled out in your profile to ensure timely reporting. For more information, see our {{ accredMasterState.state.name }} CLE Requirements page . After completing this course, {{ accredMasterState.state.name }} attorneys self-report their attendance and CLE compliance. For more information on how to report your CLE courses, see our {{ accredMasterState.state.name }} CLE Requirements FAQ .


Coco Culhane

Veteran Advocacy Project

Coco Culhane is the Executive Director of the Veteran Advocacy Project. She is an adjunct professor of clinical law at Brooklyn Law School, where she teaches the Veterans' Rights Clinic. Culhane sits on Senator Gillibrand's Service Academy Selection Committee, a panel that makes recommendations for the senator's academy nominations, and she is also a founding advisor to the NYC Veterans Alliance. From 2011-2013 she was an Equal Justice Works Fellow sponsored by the CIGNA Foundation and Cravath, Swaine & Moore LLP. She was formerly on the Steering Committee of the Veterans' Mental Health Coalition and chaired the Communications Committee in New York City for two years. She has presented on veterans' legal issues and conducted trainings for attorneys, social workers, and students at conferences across the country. Culhane received a J.D. from Brooklyn Law School, where she was the symposium editor of the Brooklyn Law Review and president of the student health law association. Prior to law school she was an editor at The New Republic for six years. She received a B.A. in English from Wesleyan University.


Debbie Ann R.

Excellent course & instructor.

Leland H.

Ms Culhane did a terrific job. I was a Navy JAG officer in the 60's and served my three years in training and at Corpus Christi, NAS. We handled US courts-martial for TX and OK sailors who were gone 30 days or more. We had about 500 Special Courts every year. I assume the number of cases has declined, but I think the basic issues regarding discipline are the same. I think every active JAG officer in each branch should see this program. I would have been helpful to me--especially when defending-- to know how a particular disposition of a case would affect the future of the serviceman. Lee Hagen

Earl B.

good update on VA vs DoD definitions and heads up on upcoming changes

Thaddeus A.

This was one of the best and most interesting lawline classes I have taken. I appreciate the knowledge of the presenter and also her very palpable compassion and intelligence.

Load More