Veterans Day and the role of volunteer lawyers
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As we come together on Veterans Day to honor the sacrifices of our fellow Americans in their military service, we must not forget the many challenges that continue after their separation from active-duty service.
One recent survey reveals that up to four of the top 10 unmet needs of homeless veterans require civil legal assistance. It has been a longstanding priority of the American Bar Association to address the legal needs of military personnel, veterans, and their families through policies and programs that advance access to justice for this population.
The ABA Veterans Legal Services Initiative positioned the ABA to ensure that veterans have access to justice and receive the legal support they, their families, and their caregivers need and deserve. The initiative worked to establish new legal clinics at VA medical centers across the country, created a list of top veteran resources for legal aid attorneys, guided the development of an online legal checkup tool for the top three civil legal issues facing veterans, and advocated for the implementation of veteran’s treatment court legislation around the country.
The ABA’s commitment to veterans is being carried forward through our newly formed ABA Military and Veterans Legal Center. The Center will create special projects, networks, CLEs, and resources to advance access to legal services for veterans.
For example, the ABA recently held a Veterans Benefits Claims 101 CLE that was attended live and via webinar by over 200 attorneys. The Center also has relaunched the Veterans Claims Assistance Network (VCAN), which links unrepresented veterans with pro bono lawyers who help the veterans assemble their initial VA disability compensation claims. Other initiatives under the Center include the Military Pro Bono Project, a national network of pro bono attorneys providing free legal services to active-duty military families; ABA Home Front, an online legal education and referral resource center for members of the military, and Operation Stand-By, a platform through which military attorneys may seek attorney-to-attorney guidance from volunteer civilian attorneys.
The ABA works every day, through our entities, programs, and projects, to ensure that those currently or formerly serving in our armed services have access to legal services and receive the protections and benefits to which they are entitled. Our success in this mission is entirely dependent on the involvement and support of the legal community. Please visit our Military and Veterans Legal Center at www.abamilvets.org to learn more about what we do and how you can get involved.
Updated at 10:29 a.m. to fix broken links. Updated on Nov. 9 to clarify that up to four of the top 10 unmet needs of homeless veterans require civil legal assistance.