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CPSD and Puller Clinic Celebrate Five Years of Collaboration

VCU’s Psychology Department is proudly celebrating five years of successful collaboration with the Lewis B. Puller, Jr. Veterans Benefits Clinic at the College of William & Mary. This joint effort was initiated to help clear out an overwhelming federal backlog of veterans benefits cases.

Since 2008, VCU Clinical and Counseling Psychology doctoral students at the Center for Psychological Services and Development (CPSD) have partnered with the Puller Clinic’s law students to serve veterans by expediting the process through which their eligibility for benefits is determined.

The Puller Clinic provides free services to military veterans who are petitioning to increase their benefits, or are submitting benefits applications for the first time. They often refer veterans to CPSD, where psychologists-in-training provide assessment and counseling services. For example, CPSD students conduct objective psychological evaluations, which may be used by the Puller Clinic to support their veterans’ cases.

In August of this year, Senator Mark Warner and Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki recognized the Puller Clinic as a national “best practices” program and the first law school clinic in the nation to be certified as a member of the Fully Developed Claims Community of Practice. In his press briefing, Senator Warner described this as a “win-win-win” situation for veterans, the VA, and the law students. VCU’s Psychology Department and CPSD are proud to be part of this equation.

In September, Dr. Beth Heller, Acting Director of CPSD, accompanied Puller Clinic staff to Washington, D.C., where they met with Senator Warner prior to an outreach event for homeless veterans. At that meeting, Senator Warner reiterated his praise for the successful collaboration.