The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) employs a number of trained professional veterans service representatives to help veterans make claims and generally navigate through the bureaucracy at the VA. The VA also has regulations in place allowing for state and local governments as well as local nonprofit service organizations to train and certify accredited veterans service representatives. VSRs are also sometimes called veterans service officers (VSOs) or claims agents. These individuals are typically attorneys or other individuals who have professional experience dealing with regulations and government administration. VA VSRs and independent claims agents must pass a VA-administered exam before accreditation, but attorneys who are members in good standing of their state bar association are exempted from having to take the exam.
Contact the VA through their website to download an application to become an accredited attorney, claims agent or representative of a recognized veterans service organization. Download Form V21 if you are applying to become an accredited attorney or claims agent and Form V21b if you are applying to become a VSR through a recognized service organization.
Complete the application carefully. Make sure to include all personal information and other required documentation. Three character references are also required on Form V21, and Form V21b requires the certifying officer of the recognized service organization to attest to the character of the applicant.
Submit your application to the VA, Office of the General Counsel, by fax or email. It can take up to 60 days to process an application.
Await written communication from the VA regarding scheduling of the written exam if you are applying to become a VA-accredited claims agent. You will receive a letter with further details on the exam procedures after your initial eligibility is established.
If you are applying to become an accredited VSR through a recognized veterans service organization, you must be a member in good standing of that organization.
Note that you may not practice professionally as a VSR while your application is being processed. You cannot begin helping veterans file claims until you are officially accredited.
- Department of Veterans Affairs: Accreditation
- Senior Veterans Service Alliance: About Accreditation & Fees
- American Women Veterans: Qualify to Become A Veterans Service Representative; February 2011
- Veteran Aid: VA Responds to Low Certification Test Grades with More Training; september 2006
- Department of Veterans Affairs: Accreditation FAQs