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Veterans’ Benefits

Updated June 24, 2014.
Prepared by Lori Fossum (2011); updated by Sherry Leysen (2012) for LAW A506: LARW B Public Interest Law.

This guide provides a basic introduction to select resources and starting points for researching federal veterans' benefits.

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is an executive department established by the Department of Veterans Affairs Act (see VA History for more information). Three separate units in the VA administer veterans' programs: the Veterans Health Administration (VHA), the Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA), and the National Cemetery Administration (NCA).

Note: LexisNexis and Westlaw access is limited to individuals with their own IDs and passwords. Access to HeinOnline and LegalTrac is UW Restricted.

Primary Law Sources


Federal laws in force are published in the United States Code (USC). Title 38 covers Veterans’ Affairs.

U.S. Code.
KF62 at Reference Area (current edition and supplements); previous editions at Compact Stacks
HeinOnline, 1925 - date

Two commercially published versions of the U.S. Code also contain references to agency regulations, court opinions interpreting and applying the laws, and law review articles discussing the laws.

U.S. Code Annotated. (USCA)
KF62 1927 .W45 at Reference Area (current edition); previous editions and superseded volumes at Compact Stacks
Westlaw: USCA

U.S. Code Service. (USCS)
KF62 1972 .L38 at Reference Area; previous editions and superseded volumes at Compact Stacks
LexisNexis: USCS

Rules & Regulations

Congress often

U.S. Administrative Opinions, Decisions & Orders

U.S. Court Decisions

Washington State Resources


Secondary Sources

Secondary sources provide an excellent starting point for a legal researcher. Secondary sources typically introduce a topic, provide an overview of the law, and offer analysis and commentary helpful to a legal researcher's understanding of an area of law. Secondary sources also provide references to the relevant primary authority a legal researcher needs, including federal and state statutes, cases (court opinions), and administrative decisions, rules, and regulations.

Examples of secondary sources include books, articles, legal encyclopedias, treatises, and attorney practice materials.

Finding Books & Reference Materials

Use Gallagher Law Library's online catalog to find reference materials, books, and journals.

Useful subject headings includes:

  • Veterans -- Legal status, laws, etc. -- United States
  • Veterans -- Services for -- United States
  • Veterans' families -- Services for -- United States
  • United States -- Armed Forces -- Pay, allowances, etc. -- Law and legislation
  • United States. Dept. of Veterans Affairs

Reference Materials

Form Books & Forms

How-To Books

Finding Articles

Articles and legal periodicals are available from a number of sources. In addition to searching HeinOnline, LexisNexis, and Westlaw, you can search LegalTrac and other UW Restricted databases for articles:

  • LegalTrac: A searchable index of more than 1,500 major law reviews, legal newspapers, specialty publications, and bar association journals; some full text (UW Restricted)
    • Search Tip: Use the asterisk (*) to expand keyword search results: veteran* benefit*
  • UW Libraries Subject Guide on Military Science: Prepared by UW Librarian Emily Keller, this guide includes links to useful databases for articles, books, news, and background information
      • EBSCO Military & Government Collection (UW Restricted): Current information on all branches of the military and topics relating to the military and military life. Provides full-text coverage of scholarly and peer-reviewed journals, pamphlets, and indexing and abstracts of hundreds of titles. Access through the Military Science subject guide
        • Search Tip: Use VETERANS’ BENEFITS in subject field for more focused results


U.S. Government Information & Publications

U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)


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