TechBullion interviewed Chas Sampson, a U.S. Army Iraq War Veteran and the Founder & CEO of Seven Principles. Chas was a VA rater for the United States Department of Veteran Affairs and a Human Resource Executive for HAF-A1 at the Pentagon. He resigned from the federal government to start Seven Principles in 2015. He earned his bachelor’s degree in psychology from Washington State University and his Master of Science in Organizational Leadership from Argosy University.
Hi Chas, tell us a little about what you do for veterans at Seven Principles.
Hi there, and thanks for allowing me to be here. Essentially, we make a very complicated and bureaucratic process simple and easy for our clients with disability claims. We inform them about how the Department of Veterans Affairs examines claims and how they make decisions. Primarily, we’re here to put a case together that ensures veterans get the highest chance of success. A winning case equates to more money each month for the rest of their lives.
Before we go any further, I’d like to thank you for your service as an Iraq War Veteran. Can you tell us how your own experience as an Army veteran influences your work today?
Great question! You know, I always say that the world is controlled by two factors — economics and emotions. What we do here in this business is emotional. I never set out to be a CEO. I was thrown into this work because of my service to this country.
Deploying, serving, and then going through the process of filling my VA claim enables me to identify with every client. Other members of the firm have served in the military as well. So for us, the emotional commitment we have to our clients stems from the fact that we have been in their shoes. We’ve been in the position they are in now.
Quite frankly, if you’re looking for the firm that will do best by your claim, you want one run by veterans. We’ve already been through what our clients have experienced and can tell them what to expect. You’re not going to be able to find this information in a chatroom or Facebook group. We’ve been through the process of getting our claims solidified and managing our affairs through the department of veteran affairs. Now we’re on the other side and can help.
Before founding Seven Principles, you worked as a VA rater. What does a rater do, and how did this work inspire you to establish the Seven Principles Group?
You wouldn’t believe how many people ask me that! Before becoming a VA rater, I worked in the private sector as a lobbyist. In that role, I came across a lot of veterans lobbying for similar causes. I was also working at a university overseeing veteran issues. As the only veteran there, my specialized skillset became educating veterans on their educational benefits and maximizing their time in school.
In those roles, a lot of veterans asked me for advice on disability compensation benefits and finances, but I had no clue how to advise them. Meanwhile, I started working on my own claim. At the time, I had a 60 percent VA rating, but I didn’t think anything of it then. I had signed up to serve the country during the Iraq war, so I never focused on what I would get out of it. I didn’t even know I would be paid for my military service.
I ended up looking deeper into this issue and noticed that it was a problem for veterans across the country. I wanted to learn how to answer the questions these veterans had. I took on the role of a rater to help my friends and help myself. Once I got the job, I learned the reasons why claims are denied. I also learned how to prepare and present claims properly to give them the best chance of success.
Our job as raters is to look at the evidence in a veteran’s claim and either grant or deny benefits. As a rater, I examined veterans’ medical records, disability benefits questionnaires, and military service records to make final determinations about the benefits they should receive. I looked at the data alongside medical professionals and lawyers to make decisions on each veteran’s claim. We also have a responsibility to the American taxpayer to ensure we use properly appropriated funds.
In a nutshell, raters make decisions on cases involving veterans’ claims and inform the veterans why we came to that decision. We are responsible for making those decisions in a timely manner and to the best of our ability. There are a lot of stressors that come with the work.
In my work as a rater, I noticed a disconnect between what veterans understood about their benefits and what the VA provided. I started dreaming about a role that could serve veterans better than my work at the Pentagon ever could. I launched Seven Principles to partner with veterans as someone who has struggled through the claims process as well.
What does the Seven Principles Group do to help veterans above and beyond government programs?
For us, Seven Principles is about taking the work off of vets, relieving their stress, and giving them expert advice. Most resources out there will tell you what to do, but they won’t strategize with you to help you get the maximum amount you’re entitled to receive. We do the work for you.
We look at medical evidence and case law in relation to every claim. We investigate what has happened in the process and where each veteran wants to go. Every case involves a complicated algorithm custom-designed to deliver results.
If a veteran comes to us and says, “Hey, I think I should have a 100 percent VA rating,” then we find ways to get them as close as possible. On the flip side, we only work on cases where we know we can get our clients something in return. Most resources will say yes to every case. Whatever you want to submit, there will submit it for you. We don’t operate this way, and that’s what makes us different.
Veterans aren’t going to find too many shops that take time to focus on them specifically. We cap our services, working only with a certain number of veterans each year. This ensures we can always stand by our quality of service and our results.
The most significant benefit of Seven Principles is that most of us are former federal employees. We know the system extremely well. As someone who worked inside the government, I can offer veterans technical expertise concerning how the VA will approach their case.
Also, being veterans, we understand what our clients are going through. We speak both languages. We understand both the vets and the federal government.
What do you enjoy most about your work at Seven Principles Group?
There are so many things I love about this work. First, I get the chance to help people every day. Veterans are always telling me how many times they’ve run into brick walls when processing their own claims. We’re able to get them outstanding results in a very short time. We don’t get these results because of special leverage with the government. We get results because I understand how the process works. I know it because I have lived it.
The second thing that motivates me in this work is our team. Some of the members have been with the firm since its inception. We’ve recruited talented lawyers, doctors, and customer service handlers, and all of them get behind our mission and help our clients. Every veteran is unique, and trying to manage such a wide range of demographics and medical conditions can be overwhelming. They’re experts at what they do. They come in every day and give one hundred percent.
The third thing that keeps me going is my commitment to this work. It’s personal for me. I love doing it. I do it in my sleep. Honestly, I’m immersed in the military all day long. I live in a military town, and people ask me for advice everywhere I go.
Many people get tired of their jobs, but I found a job that I love. I’ve been doing it for ten years and don’t see myself doing anything else.
What was your mission when you set out to found Seven Principles?
Our mission is to take a very complicated veterans claims process and simplify it for our clients. Sometimes that mission is accomplished so well that our clients have no idea what we did. They just know they needed a result, and they got it. That’s what it’s supposed to be about. Veterans bring us their VA claim problems, and we make those problems disappear. The process equates to money for our clients most of the time.
Our mission is to take care of veterans and put them in a position to be successful. Sometimes that involves partnering with them to figure out their claim, and other times that involves hiring veterans to be a part of our exclusive team. That’s a big part of our mission, too.
Why are you so successful in getting veterans the benefits they deserve? How are you different from other groups who do this work?
We have a 97.6% success rating for our clients as of June 14, 2022. If we take a veteran’s case, we can win it. We’re not going to take jobs that waste their time or ours.
We look at every single case. By the time we’ve done our research, we have a clear idea of where a case will go and how to succeed with it.
How can people reach out to you to find more information on your work?
They can call our firm 24/7 at (770)-Veterans. They can also schedule a live consultation on our website sevenprinciples.com.