Sunday, November 30, 2008

Wyoming Legal Assistance to Military Personnel (LAMP)

The Wyoming State Bar does not appear to have a Legal Assistance to Military Personnel (LAMP) Section (it is among our smaller bars, with about 1500 members); however it and the state generally has some resources useful to servicemembers, veterans and their families.

  • A new Pro Bono program has been launched and is recruiting members. More information:
  • Online Continuing Legal Education (CLE): Wyoming hosts or aggregates several on-line seminars through Legalspan. Titles include "2008 Legal Issues with Military Deployments", "Military Service: Special Relief in Family Law, Debt Collection, Leasing & Taxes" and more. Since much of the relevant law is federal in nature, it makes a lot of sense for bar associations to link to quality work by other organizations. For the full list, click here.
  • The Wyoming Advocate Resource Center is not focused on LAMP issues but may be a source to turn to, whether you're look to provide pro bono help or seeking pro bono help
  • Wyoming Military Assistance Trust Fund serves as a last resort for dependents of deployed Wyoming military personnel to turn to in times of financial hardship. The rules are here; see also its grant application package and the Wyoming National Guard's Military Assistance Trust Fund page.
  • Reservists and National Guard members who are students at University of Wyoming may get some help from its Student Attorney Program. The University's College of Law also sponsors a Legal Services Program which, while not focused on servicemembers in particular, may be useful for those who qualify as low-income.

Active duty service members may wish to go first to Armed Forces Legal Assistance's nice online database to "locate active duty legal activities offering general legal services within the continental United States". A query for the state of Wyoming is here

The Findlaw website has a city-by-city list of lawyers interested in representing active-duty military personnel, military reservists, and veterans here.

Anyone with more information on these or other programs, please add in a comment below. The purpose is service!
See also

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Things to be Thankful For

Pause to reflect, then feel free to add to the list:

Q. What do these have in common?

A. Americans, mostly volunteers, working to get the job done. It's that "community" thing we hear so much about; it's real and it works!

Unfortunately, there's more to do; pick what-ever group fits you best, or crank up one of your own. You will not regret it; to the contrary, as sure as there is a day and a night, your participation will give you something more to be thankful for on Thanksgiving 2009.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Local Government: Sometimes an Alternative for Veterans

Across our nation, cities, counties and states offer important alternatives to veterans seeking help. While there are never any guarantees, these can provide alternatives when our great nation falls short.

Often, these benefits have been created after a servicemember has separated from service, and so may not have thought to check to see what's available. Here's a few examples of typical services; of course, you'll want to check your own community or that of your clients to see what's available:


"An increasing number of military veterans are applying for benefits from local cities because they have lost their jobs in the poor economy, according to veterans' agents.

Beverly is expected to spend nearly three times its budget for veterans benefits, while Salem will spend almost twice as much, the agents in those communities say.

"Instead of going to welfare, they're coming to us," Salem Veterans' Agent Jean-Guy Martineau said.

Low-income veterans can apply for public assistance benefits under state law. The benefits are paid by their home city or town and are then reimbursed by the state at a rate of up to 75 percent ..."

Martineau said veterans from the Vietnam War era have been particularly hard hit by the economy because they are considered too old to hire by some employers but are not old enough to qualify for Social Security.

"These are the veterans that are caught in the middle," he said."

"Veterans hit by poor job market" by Paul Leighton, Salem News, November 24, 2008

Michigan (Macomb County)

  • Veterans Transportation to VA Medical Center in Detroit ( Wednesday & Thursday only)
  • Certified copies of Military Discharge papers
  • Military Discharge papers recording
  • Request for Service Medals / Ribbons / Service Medical Records / Service Records
  • Also some services for dependents and survivors


Oregon Benefits
  • Auto License: Disabled Veteran license plate - permanent, lifetime, for certain disabled veterans. A one-time fee is charged to help support the Oregon Veterans home in the Dalles.
  • Conservatorship: Estate management for certain veterans and dependents who are no longer able to manage their own finances.
  • Employment: Assistance in job search and employment programs through State employment Office Local Veteran Employment Representative and Disabled Veteran Outreach Program Coordinator.
  • Game Licenses: Permanent hunting and fishing licenses to veterans with 25% or more disability.
  • Property Tax Exemption: Partial exemptions from property tax for veterans with disabilities of 40% or more.
  • Public Employment: Veterans' preference in public employment. Additional preference for disabled veterans.
  • Records: Help in obtaining copies of public records of marriage, death, divorce, and birth, for claims purposes.
  • Re-employment Rights: Entitlement to reinstatement in former job, seniority and pay with accrued status upon release from service. Enforced under Federal statutes.
  • State Educational Aid: Up to $50 per month to qualified Oregon veterans.
  • State Veterans Home Loans: (Toll Free 1-888-ORE-VETS (673-8387))
    Low interest loans for the purchase of single family, owner-occupied residence to qualified veterans with service prior to 1977.
  • State Veterans Home: The Oregon Department of Veterans Affairs has established a Nursing Home in the Dalles for Oregon Veterans in need of fulltime skilled nursing care.

Washington State (King County)

Veterans' Incarcerated Project (V.I.P.):V.I.P. is a "fast track" effort to help Veterans recently released from, or currently incarcerated within the King County Correctional Facility system. A full array of on-site and referral sources are available including services for family members.
Services Available
Upon the incarcerated veteran's release, the V.I.P. might provide transitional housing for up to 30 days, possibly longer if needed. This arrangement usually provides one meal each day, and, in most cases an immediate address for release.

Also, the V.I.P. will provide referrals for low cost or no cost medical, dental, vision, and mental health treatments. If the Veteran needs clothing, the V.I.P. will refer the Veteran to appropriate sources of free or low cost clothing.

The V.I.P. will assist the Veteran with registration for the VA Addictions Treatment Program, which might be required by the Court. Also, the V.I.P. will refer the Veteran for a no cost Post Traumatic Stress Disorder screening and evaluation. The V.I.P. will help the Veteran register with King County Veterans' Program employment counselors and the job referral program.
Your locality's offering may vary, but it's worth checking out!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Service-Disabled Veterans Small Businesses and Federal Contracting

Section 15(g) of the Small Business Act (15 U.S.C. 644(g)) provides that the President must establish a goal of not less than 3 percent for participation by service-disabled veteran businesses in Federal contracting. To implement that goal, Executive Order 13360 (October 20, 2004) ordains a number of initiatives.

One of the results is the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA)'s 21 Gun Salute initiative. Its official purpose is to help provide more opportunities in federal contracting for Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Businesses (SDVOSBs) with the goal of allocating at least 3 percent, or $143 million, in GSA contract dollars to service-disabled veteran businesses in 2008. Per GSA # 10459 (March 3, 2008)
"GSA's local Small Business Utilization offices are available to assist service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses throughout the contracting process. Veteran business owners interested in working with GSA should contact the Small Business Utilization office for assistance."
Attorneys advising small businesses in a variety of capacities, or who are in small businesses themselves, might wish to check this out further.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Georgia Legal Assistance to Military Personnel (LAMP)

The Georgia legal community offers a variety of way to provide legal assistance to our servicemembers, veterans and their families.

For Our Warrior Community

Active duty service members can check the Armed Forces Legal Assistance's online database to locate active duty legal activities offering general legal services within the continental United States.

General Purpose Legal Aid Programs

Servicemembers, veterans and their families are of course eligible to use the same resources as anyone else.

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 anything. If the matter is something the lawyer can help you with, but must charge for, sometimes you can work out a military-family discount. The Findlaw website has a city-by-city list of lawyers interested in representing active-duty military personnel, military reservists, and veterans here.

For Lawyers

Added 11/2/2014:  hosts a Military Assistance Program: "Join this site if you are a volunteer attorney, legal services advocate, law student or faculty advising low income and disadvantaged clients. There are resources here to help you assist service members and veterans."

Added 3/19/2011:
"The State Bar of Georgia Military Legal Assistance Program partners with the National Guard JAG Corps, Military Legal Services Offices, and civil legal aid and pro bono programs in Georgia to assure coordinated services for military households.

Join this site if you are a volunteer attorney, legal services advocate, law student or faculty advising low income and disadvantaged clients. There are resources here to help you assist service members and veterans."
The State Bar of Georgia Veterans & Military Pro Bono Committee and the State Bar of Georgia Pro Bono Project announce the second webinar in a series that provides support and training to lawyers assisting veterans and servicemembers. The upcoming 1-hour webinar, “Nuts and Bolts of the Uniformed Services Employment, Retraining and Reemployment Act (USERRA)”, will be held on Tuesday, March 24th at 2pm.For more information, visit our statewide volunteer lawyer support website.

The State Bar of Georgia recently announced a survey of its members to assist the interest in serving service members, veterans, and their families:
"A growing problem throughout the U.S. military involves active servicemembers, reservists and veterans who need legal services outside what is available to them from the government.

At the annual meeting in June, the State Bar of Georgia Board of Governors voted to establish a special committee, charged with the task of identifying and addressing unmet legal needs of the state's military servicemembers, reservists, veterans and their families. As a lawyer invested in the legal system, you can help us. Please take a moment to complete the survey.

The Committee appreciates your willingness to assist with the unmet legal services needs of Georgia's military personnel."
If you are a member of the State Bar of Georgia, please Take The Survey Now!. Note: this is a survey for Georgia Bar members only.


The Lawscape blog offers "One perspective on the legal landscape in rural Georgia… Thoughts, commentary, reading resources and news on the legal needs of Georgians in small towns and rural areas" at

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

VA: What To Do If We Shredded Your Documents

The Veterans Administration has admitted that its staff shredded some documents required to prove claims. The extent of this problem is unknown; so far, it seems to be saying only that an audit found 500 documents inappropriately placed in "to-be-shredded" piles; there is no estimate of how many such documents were already shredded or when the practice started.

The VA has released a FAQ which reads, in part:
"How do I know if any of my claims documents were destroyed?

You may contact VA on our toll-free number, 1-800-827-1000, or send an inquiry through IRIS.VA.GOV. You may also review your claims folder at your local regional office. VA electronically tracks documents for currently pending claims and can verify receipt of your documents through its tracking system. VA also retains your claims applications and supporting documents in your VA claims file. Public contact representatives will review VA's record systems to verify receipt of applications and supporting evidence.

If I believe that some of my documents are missing, what should I do?

If VA does not currently have one or more of the documents you submitted between April 14, 2007 and October 14, 2008 in connection with your claim for VA benefits, you should submit a request for consideration under VA's Special Claims Handling Procedures for Missing Documents.
10. How long do I have to submit a request for consideration under the Special Claims Handling Procedures for Missing Documents?

You have until November 17, 2009 to submit previously submitted documents.

11. If VA determines I am entitled to benefits, will VA pay me from the date I originally submitted the missing documents?

VA will process any missing applications or evidence resubmitted under these special procedures as if they were received on the date originally submitted, as long as the date of original submission is between April 14, 2007 and October 14, 2008.

12. What if the missing claim document was submitted before April 14, 2007?

To support your statement that you originally filed your claim before April 14, 2007, please submit any documents you have that show you previously submitted this claim..."

It ends with the cheerful but rather tardy advice:
"...You are encouraged to make a copy of your application and supporting documents before submitting them to VA"
No doubt there will be more about this later.


Monday, November 17, 2008

Conviction in Iraq Illegal Gratuities Case

According to an October 31, 2008 press release from the U.S. Attorney for the District of Western Washington:
Contracting Officer Took Thousands for Steering Work in Iraq

CEDAR LANMON, 31, of Tacoma, Washington was sentenced today in U.S. District Court in Tacoma to a year in prison, and one year of supervised release for Accepting Illegal Gratuities. LANMON is a Captain in the Army who has completed two tours of duty in Iraq. While he was deployed LANMON accepted tens of thousands of dollars from contractors in Iraq to steer Army contracts to them. These contracts were for such things as heavy construction work at military facilities in Iraq. At sentencing U.S. District Judge Ronald B. Leighton said, “corruption cannot be accepted or tolerated, and would not be accepted or tolerated.” Judge Leighton noted that Lanmon’s conduct crossed the line, and he had to be sentenced to prison time to set an example to others who might also be inclined to cross the line.

According to records filed in the case, LANMON accepted money from three different individuals while deployed to Iraq. In his guilty plea, LANMON admits he accepted money from an Albanian contractor while assisting with the awarding of government contracts. LANMON took $25,000 from the Albanian contractor who was hired with a $250,000 contract to build berms at a military base in Ballad, Iraq. LANMON wired some of the illegally obtained funds home to his wife, or transported the cash back to the United States. LANMON also purchased high value rugs and furniture in Iraq and brought them to his home in Tacoma, planning to sell them for profit in the U.S.
At sentencing, Assistant United States Attorney David Reese Jennings said that if LANMON had done all the things he outlined in his letter to the court—helping Iraqis obtain contracts, helping them to understand the contracting system, and assisting them in conducting business with the United States -- as part of his job, he would be up for a promotion. “Instead, LANMON did them for profit, and he used his position as an Army Officer to cultivate those profits, and those actions are the very core of corruption,” Jennings told the court.

LANMON was charged in November 2007, and pleaded guilty July 23, 2008. LANMON is expected to receive a dishonorable discharge from the Army.

The case was investigated by the Defense Criminal Investigative Service (DCIS), the FBI and the Army Criminal Investigation Division (Army-CID).

The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney David Reese Jennings.

For additional information please contact Emily Langlie, Public Affairs Officer for the United States Attorney’s Office, at (206) 553-4110."

Direct link:

Thursday, November 13, 2008

SOAR: Service Officers Appeals Report

The Veterans Appeals Litigation Office of Paralyzed Veterans of America publishes SOAR, the Service Officers Appeals Report, to provide useful information concerning cases at the Board of Veterans’ Appeals, Veterans Court, Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, VA General Counsel Opinions, judicial review, VA’s rulemaking activities, and other issues of interest and concern to PVA service officers.

The latest issue of this quarterly newsletter available online at PVS Legal Issues Page.
EDITTED TO CHANGE LINKS: Here's the newsletter archive

According to the newsletter, you may send submissions to: PVA Veterans Appeals Litigation Office, 625 Indiana Ave., NW, Suite 250 • Washington, DC 20004

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Online CLE: The Representation of US Military Members by the Civilian Bar

ABICLE (Alabama Bar Institute for CLE) is advertising an online course "The Representation of US Military Members by the Civilian Bar" (Class No. 93230) running 11/17/2008- 12/31/2008.

It's rated at 1 Alabama CLE Credits 1.0 (no Ethics Credits); you can get more information at (800)627-6514 I tried their online chat system to get more information, and was told out-of-state attorneys were welcome, but of course they could say nothing about credit in other states. Attorneys anywhere may be interested in the course for its content even if it's not eligible for credit. See

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Community of Veterans : Welcome!

This Memorial Day see that launch of, a new social network exclusively for Iraq and Afghanistan veterans. Join, learn share!

To learn more, see the Public Service Announcement from Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America:

Or just go to and get started!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Veterans in Mortgage Distress: a few options

Among the many resources available on the VA's Loan Guaranty Web Site is a press release: Enhanced VA Mortgage Options Now Available for Veterans Of Potential Benefit to Those in Financial Distress
"WASHINGTON (Oct.24) -- Veterans with conventional home loans now have new options for refinancing to a Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) guaranteed home loan. These new options are available as a result of the Veterans’ Benefits Improvement Act of 2008, which the President signed into law on October 10, 2008.
“These changes will allow VA to assist a substantial number of veterans with subprime mortgages refinance into a safer, more affordable, VA guaranteed loan,” said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Dr. James B. Peake. “Veterans in financial distress due to high rate subprime mortgages are potentially the greatest beneficiaries.”
VA has never guaranteed subprime loans. However, as a result of the new law VA can now help many more veterans who currently have subprime loans.
The new law makes changes to VA’s home loan refinancing program. Veterans who wish to refinance their subprime or conventional mortgage may now do so for up to 100 percent of the value of the property. These types of loans were previously limited to 90 percent of the value.
Additionally, Congress raised VA’s maximum loan amount for these types of refinancing loans. Previously, these refinancing loans were capped at $144,000. With the new legislation, such loans may be made up to $729,750 depending on where the property is located.
Increasing the loan-to-value ratio and raising the maximum loan amount will allow more qualified veterans to refinance through VA, allowing for savings on interest costs or even potentially avoiding foreclosure.
Originally set to expire at the end of this month, VA’s authority to guaranty Adjustable Rate Mortgages (ARMs) and Hybrid ARMs was also extended under this new law through September 30, 2012. Unlike conventional ARMs and hybrid ARMs, VA limits interest rate increases on these loans from year to year, as well as over the life of the loans.
Since 1944, when home loan guaranties were offered with the original GI Bill, VA has guaranteed more than 18 million home
loans worth over $911 billion. This year, about 180,000 veterans, active duty servicemembers, and survivors received loans valued at about $36 billion.
For more information, or to obtain help from a VA Loan Specialist, veterans may call VA at 1-877-827-3702 or visit"

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Nominate Employers for ESGR Patriot Award

One way to encourage employers to do the right thing for deployed National Guard and Reserve members is to nominate them for an award.
You (or any NG/Reserve member) can nominate a boss for a "Patriot Award" through Employer Support for the Guard and Reserve (ESGR).

According to ESGR's handy Online Application Form:
Your employer will receive a Department of Defense Certificate of Appreciation and a Patriot lapel pin. All members of the National Guard and Reserve are eligible to nominate their employers.

Your boss may be eligible for higher recognition, but only if you take the time to explain. Please write a few sentences below to explain why your boss deserves this recognition.
It doesn't take more than a few minutes to fill out the form and reward a boss who does the right thing. This may encourage them and their peers (...not to mention their competitors...) to keep it up or even to do better. The next deployed servicemember may have you to thank!