DES MOINES, Iowa — Amy Kretkowski is an Iowa City lawyer who has a specialty in representing veterans’ benefits cases before a special legal court that hears Veterans Administration appeals cases.

“I went to law school at Iowa, and my husband and I moved to DC, and I was clerk for veterans claims,” said Kretkowski. “The court was created in the late ’80s with exclusive jurisdiction over final decisions from the board of veterans appeals.”

That got her interested in the laws surrounding veterans’ cases, and what’s involved to make a legal case before the court. She said most times the VA gets it right in terms of offering benefits where they are qualified. But sometimes, there is a long appeal process that ends up in the special court.

 “Veterans applied for benefits for federal VA disability compensation, benefits or pension benefits, or survivors benefits, they go through the VA process and if they keep getting denied, getting denied, getting denied, it hits the ceiling,” said Kretkowski.  That’s when it goes to the special court.

Kretkowski is now offering a fall course at the University of Iowa to work with attorneys in training on how to deal with the VA. She said her class of 14 students meets for two hours per week. For some, there is a spring course that involves a trip the Washington DC VA Court.

“Holding the next generation of attorneys to work on cases, you don’t have to be a veteran yet to take this class,” said Kretkowski. “Get to really the next generation of advocates is very important to me because there’s just there’s a huge need for people who are familiar and comfortable and effective in this area,” said Kretkowski.