Cheryl Mason, known to her colleagues as Cheri, is an experienced attorney and leader, the spouse of an Air Force veteran, the daughter of a World War II Navy veteran, and as of September 5, 2017, nominee for Chair of the Board of Veterans’ Appeals (BVA). Cheri has met the challenges faced by military spouse attorneys, excelled at every level of the profession, and is now set to lead the administrative tribunal that adjudicates veterans’ benefits. If confirmed, she would be the first woman to serve as the Chair of the BVA, and the first military spouse as well. MSJDN has always recognized that military spouse attorneys have a special set of skills to offer in the workplace and in leadership positions. We are encouraged to see that recognition reflected in Cheri’s nomination.
Cheri currently serves as the Principal Deputy Vice Chairman at BVA. She started her career at BVA in 1990, while her husband was still on active duty. After working there for four years, building a name for herself as a tireless advocate, her husband received orders to report to Germany. Like so many military spouses who came before and after her, she put her professional career on hold and moved her family overseas. Wanting to work, but unable to find employment as an attorney, she accepted a position as an office manager. Upon returning to the U.S. several years later, Cheri was able to return to work at BVA, building an exemplary career serving veterans and their families, aided by her own experiences as a military spouse.
At BVA, Cheri worked her way up from Counsel, to Judge, to Chief Judge,to Principal DeputyVice Chairman. As she rose up through the ranks, she built bridges with VSOs and MSOs, collaborating with a broad base of stakeholders on efforts to modernize and streamline the appeals process. While Cheri has a long career at BVA, her service as a mobilemilitary spouse means she has a variety of experiences that makes her well-rounded. Her career began in private practice in Omaha, Nebraska. She later served as an attorney ensuring the Americans with Disabilities Act was implemented and followed. She also served at the Federal Labor Relations Authority. As her career path demonstrates, she is deeply passionate about serving veterans and those facing challenges in their lives.
At last year’s annual MSJDN professional development conference, Cheri shared her career journey with fellow military spouse attorneys in attendance. She highlighted that although she accepted a position as an office manager while in Germany that was several steps down on the pay scale, she was later able to emphasize the management and organizational skills used in that position to enhance her resume as she pursued leadership roles in the workplace.
MSJDN was thrilled to recognize BVA at this year’s Annual Reception as a nominee for the Member’s Choice Award. With Cheri showcasing the stellar capabilities of military spouse attorneys, BVA has hired numerous military spouses over the years, including through the Veterans Legal Career Fair. Cheri strongly supported implementation of remote work policies allowing BVA attorneys to move with a spouse who receives PCS orders outside of the National Capital Region, while still maintaining a meaningful legal career. The teleworking and remote work opportunities, available to all attorneys at the Board, are particularly appealing to attorneys married to service members, often faced with starting over again with each PCS.
Cheri has overcome tremendous challenges, including ups and downs on the career ladder and tours overseas, to reach this professional pinnacle; her success gives career-minded military spouses hope. Hope that being married to a servicemember does not mean the end to our careers. Hope that military families can balance a two-career household and a life of service. Hope that the sacrifices being made by military families are not going unnoticed.
MSJDN is proud to support a military spouse attorney like Cheri in line with our mission to advocate on behalf of military spouse attorneys and educate the public on the challenges faced by professional military spouses. Cheri’s success shows that military spouses are intelligent, capable leaders with valuable skills in the workplace. MSJDN supports Cheri’s nomination to lead the Board of Veterans’ Appeals, and we hope you will join us to #ConfirmCheri.
Want to support the nomination of a fellow military spouse attorney? Contact your Senator below to share your thoughts: