Sunday, February 16, 2014

WSBA Call to Duty Program - Washington State

The WSBA Call to Duty Pledge asks you to commit in serving Washington veterans in 2014. As part of the pledge we will support you by providing resources both legal and non-legal to serve veterans, education and CLEs, and the chance to answer the various calls to duty in serving veterans.
By taking this pledge, you commit to serve veterans this year in one or more of the following ways:

  • Use my legal skills to advise a nonprofit organization that serves veterans
  • Mentor those who take pro bono cases that served a veteran
  • Teach at a CLE on veterans legal issues
  • Volunteer for one of the Call to Duty’s Days of Service or with the WA Vets Will Clinic
  • Take a low-fee veteran's case through the WSBA Moderate Means Program
  • Take a pro bono case from an organization who serves veterans
  • Become certified to take a VA benefits case.

Pledges are automatically added to our “Call to Duty Pledge” list serve. This list serve provides the following announcements and opportunities:
  • Monthly “Lunch and Learn” sessions – these webinars will highlight legal and non-legal resource helpful to serving veterans and their families 
  • Volunteer openings across the state
  • Access to free CLEs on issues veterans face
  • Pro bono case placement
  • Success stories from our members and our veterans
  • First to sign-up for the Days of Service.
Members who fulfill the pledge will receive a pin, be distinguished in NWLawyer magazine, and invited to a WSBA Call to Duty awards ceremony each January.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Veterans Consortium Pro Bono Program Training - Sign up Now!


This program provides training free of charge to attorneys who agree to counsel and/or represent a veteran/VA claimant or family member before the Veterans Court. As well as receiving the day-long training, attorneys who participate are assigned a case that has been screened for merit and provided a screening memo outlining the issues in the case. Volunteers are also assigned a mentor (a practicing veterans’ law lawyer or practitioner) to give advice and share sample pleadings. Attorneys also receive the Veterans Benefits Manual (VBM) and other resource materials.
Attorneys who participate receive free training in exchange for a commitment to handle at least one appeal that is before the Veterans Court. Attorneys with little or no prior veterans’ law experience are generally able to capably represent an appellant before the Veterans Court provided they attend the training seminar and maintain contact with their mentor. Most cases can be completed in 50 to 60 hours; many cases may require fewer hours. A typical case lasts about 1 year from the time that the attorney enters the case. Some cases may be resolved more quickly and some may take longer.
These trainings tend to fill up quickly, so register asap.
Title:
Veterans Consortium Pro Bono Program Training
When/Where:
Friday, May 2, 2014
9:00AM to 5:00PM
1101 K Street NW
Washington DC 20005
Wednesday, May 7, 2014
9:00AM to 5:00PM
300 North LaSalle, 11th Floor
Chicago IL 60654
The registration link will be posted February 18.
Credit:
These trainings have always featured a great many free CLE credit recognized in most or all mandatory CLE states.
More Information and Registration

Friday, January 10, 2014

eBenefits: VA Disability Claims via the web!

The VA is encouraging veterans to applying for a VA disability claim online. is the fastest and quickest way to receive a decision. eBenefits, VA-Department of Defense’s joint portal, lets Veterans enter claim information electronically using a step-by-step, interview-style application, with pre-populated data fields and drop-down menus similar to popular tax preparation software. Learn more at https://www.ebenefits.va.gov

Sunday, January 5, 2014

January 14: Minneapolis & Webcast: Military Veterans and Service Members in the Minnesota Criminal Justice System

Are you working with a veteran or service member in the Minnesota criminal justice system? If you are what are the unique challenges they face? What tools are available for you in helping them? Hamline Law alum John Baker (2003), who is retired from the U.S. Marine Corps and is the past chair of the new Minnesota State Bar Association Military & Veterans Affairs Section, will discuss those unique challenges and give you the tools to help work with veterans and service members. This presentation will
  • Help you understand what combat stress issues are including post traumatic stress and traumatic brain injury
  • Help you properly identify a military veteran or service member and understand military documents and lingo
  • Discuss the new Veteran Court and the Veterans Sentencing Mitigation Statute.
Title:
Military Veterans and Service Members in the Minnesota Criminal Justice System
When/Where:
January 14, 2014
11:30 AM to 12:30 PM
Moot Court Room (Room 100)
Hamline Law School
1536 Hewitt Avenue
Saint Paul, MN 55104-1284
Also Webcast
Speaker:
Attorney John Baker, retired from the U.S. Marine Corps, is the past chair of the new Minnesota State Bar Association Military & Veterans Affairs Section
By:
Hamline University School of Law
Credit:
1 credit applied for
Cost:
Free.

Monday, December 23, 2013

VADIP Dental Insurance for Veterans

Keep Them Smiling!
Are you a veteran looking for dental insurance? Although Congress has not authorized the VA to pay for dental care unless you are disabled, the VA has negotiated a new "VA Dental Insurance Program" (VADIP) that lets you purchase private dental insurance at a reduced cost.
  • Your participation is voluntary.
  • Purchasing a dental plan does not affect your eligibility for VA dental services and treatment.
  • Coverage begins January 1, 2014.
  • You pay a fixed monthly premiums for coverage and any copayments required, depending on the type of plan selected.
  • You may participate if you are a veteran or are in the CHAMPVA program.

What Do You Get

  • Delta Dental has three options: "Standard" "Enhanced" and "Comprehensive"
  • Met Life has two options: "Standard" and "High"
  • Each of them lets you add some dependents for a higher premium.

What Does It Cost

See Delta Dental Rate Calculator and Met Life Rate Calculator.
The costs vary depending on: 
  • where you live
  • the insurance company you pick 
  • the plan ("standard" or otherwise) you pick
  • the number of non-veteran dependents you include
  • Whether you are enrolling as a veteran or under the CHAMPVA program.
Each plan has a monthly premium, plus copayments. These are likely to change every year so you'll want to consult the latest plan documents. Don't be shy about calling both insurance agencies and trying to see if customer service can identify the plan that comes closest to your needs - just be sure your thought about what you need and WRITTEN IT DOWN FOR REFERENCE before you make the call - you don't want to forget something in the middle of the call!

I compared the 2014 monthly premium for  for Veteran only standard option:
  • Delta Dental 
    • Washington State (ZIP code 98204) $12.90
    • West Virginia (ZIP code 26054) $8.90 
  • Met Life
    • Washington State (ZIP code 98204)  $25.90
    • West Virginia (ZIP code 26054) $17.27 
Keep in mind that these are probably not identical plans; the difference in prices might be due to one having different coverage than the other - or it might not.
Your situation will vary so check for yourself!

Monday, November 25, 2013

Missouri Legal Assistance to Military Personnel (LAMP)

The legal community in Missouri provides Legal Assistance to Military Personnel in a variety of ways.

For the Warrior Community

Active duty service members may wish to go first to Armed Forces Legal Assistance's online database to "locate active duty legal activities offering general legal services within the continental United States". When I checked the State of Missouri in 2013, I got:
Location (Branch)Contact Information
MAPWhiteman AFB
(Air Force)
509 BW/JA
509 Spirit Blvd Ste 203
Whiteman AFB, MO 65305
Phone: 660-687-6809 DSN 975-6809
http://www.whiteman.af.mil/
MAPFort Leonard Wood
(Army)
Fort Leonard Wood
316 Missouri, Bld 315
Fort Leonard Wood, MO 65473
Phone: 573-596-0629 None
http://www.wood.army.mil/wood_cms/
  • Servicemembers, veterans and their families are of course eligible to use the same resources as anyone else. Legal Services of Missouri hosts a free Legal Library, including links to legal services programs.
  • The Missouri Department of Public Safety Veterans Commission focusses on other topics, but offers help in screening of complaints from veterans regarding observance of Veteran's preference in federal hiring to the Director of Employment and Training  See http://mvc.dps.mo.gov/benguide/employmentassistance.asp
  • Reserve and Guard members, and their families, who are having problems during deployment or a year after, should contact the Hero At Home Program Phone: 1-800-728-JOBS. Learn more at https://worksmart.ded.mo.gov/documents/

Private Practice Attorneys

Typically, a lawyer in private practice will listen to your situation for 15 or 20 minutes, then give you an idea about how to proceed, in general terms, without charging you. If the matter is something the lawyer can help you with, but must charge for, sometimes you can work out a military-family discount, especially if you are easy to work with. The Findlaw website has a city-by-city list of lawyers in Missouri who are interested in representing active-duty military personnel, military reservists, and veterans.

For Lawyers


The Missouri State Bar according to its website,  has a Military Law Committee, but does not appear to have anything oriented towards veterans. This may be a growth opportunity for attorneys seeking to expand their practice.

More Resources?
There as to be other Missouri programs, sponsored by local bar associations, law schools, and others, in service to our warrior community. Anyone with more information on these or other programs are invited to contact me; the most convenient way is to add in a comment below. The purpose is service!

See also

How Can Stateside Legal Help You?

Stateside Legal is a website intended to help servicemembers, veterans and their family members and advocates with resources such as

  • Self-help legal information 
  • Teaching videos about servicemembers' rights under the SCRA 
  • Commonly used interactive forms 
  • An interactive map of free legal aid offices 
  • Research tools for legal advocates
  • Etc.
Servicemembers, veterans, their families and friends who can't find the resources they need for a legal issue should check out resources such as their "Find Local Help" page. On the other hand, if you provide such services, you should check to see that you are on that page and, if not, contact the website to get added.