"Helping Those Who Served June 30, 2010
In 2010, thanks to funding from the Corporation for National and Community Services, Equal Justice Works is placing 9 AmeriCorps Legal Fellows across the county to serve veterans who are homeless or facing homelessness. The Fellows will take a holistic approach to assisting veterans and their families by helping to stabilize their living situations, securing VA and government benefits, medical benefits, and providing legal representation to overcome the barriers they face when obtaining other essential support services. The Fellows will also assist with mobilizing and training volunteers in Veterans Affair mediation and representation with the goal of providing services to veterans, including veterans with disabilities, veterans who are unemployed, older veterans, and veterans in rural communities.
During their 11 month term of service which begins this August, we anticipate that these Equal Justice Works AmeriCorps Legal Fellows will provide services to 1500 veterans, including those with disabilities, those who are unemployed, older veterans, and veterans who live in rural communities. Additionally, we will aim to help 600 veterans with legal issues, 250 veterans and their families with legal assistance as it relates to housing assistance programs and home foreclosure, and 650 returning veterans who face criminal charges by providing effective legal defense.
Our 9 AmeriCorps Legal Fellows will work with the following organizations on their veteran’s initiative projects:
- County of San Diego, Office of the Primary Public Defender and the Thomas Jefferson School of Law, San Diego, CA. One Fellow will develop a Veterans Treatment Court in San Diego and enhance the quality of legal representation of military and veteran clients by advising and supplementing criminal justice attorneys.
- The Legal Aid Society of the District of Columbia, Washington, DC. One Fellow will provide direct legal assistance to veterans, including conducting initial client interviews, providing advice and counsel, and taking on cases for full representation.
- Inner City Law Center, Los Angeles, CA. One Fellow will focus on serving veterans who suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder induced by military sexual trauma, which is sexual assault or harassment that occurs in military settings
- Legal Aid of West Virginia, Charleston, WV. Two Fellows will work in tandem across the state to serve veterans in rural and urban areas. They will also reach out to community groups and the VA to train people about the legal needs of veterans.
- Northwest Justice Project, Seattle WA. One Fellow will utilize NJP’s existing staff and infrastructure to provide advice and brief services, or full representation.
- Public Counsel, Los Angeles, CA. Two Fellows will serve with the Center for Veterans Advancement and will assist at-risk and homeless veterans and their families by helping to stabilize their living situations; securing government benefits, including VA benefits, Supplemental Security Income, General Relief, and medical benefits; and providing veterans with legal representation to overcome barriers they face in procuring employment, housing, medical care, and support services.
- Three Rivers Legal Services, Jacksonville, FL. One Fellow will advocate for veterans and their dependants. The fellow will learn to file claims and appeals with the Department of Veterans affairs for disability and pensions, assure enforcements of the Service Members Civil Relief Act and the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act; he/she will also advocate for rights involving mental health, medical relief and housing.
This is the first phase of a Veterans initiative that we hope to greatly expand in 2011. We will be posting updates on the progress of the Fellows throughout the coming year.
Friday, July 30, 2010