Friday, July 30, 2010

Helping Those Who Served - June 30, 2010

equaljusticeworks writes
"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 23, 2010

Washington State: Veterans Child Support Project: Helping Homeless and At-Risk Veterans with Child Support Problems - Pro Bono Opportunity

The Northwest Justice Project is seeking volunteer attorneys and law students to provide pro bono legal assistance to low-income veterans with child support problems. A free "Child Support 101" CLE will be held for volunteers at Seattle University School of Law on Friday, August 13, 2010. Registration information and other CLE and project details will be provided to those who volunteer.

Child support obligations are a barrier to housing, employment, and self-sufficiency for many homeless and at-risk veterans. Many veterans incurred these child support obligations while they were homeless, in a phase of active addiction, or otherwise untreated for a serious mental illness. For incarcerated veterans, the growing arrears from unpaid child support can be a significant barrier to reentry into the community. Many veterans may be able to reduce their child support obligations to a more manageable level and help eliminate these barriers.

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), and the American Bar Association (ABA) are piloting a project in Seattle and eight other cities to assist homeless and at-risk veterans with child support problems. The local partners for this project include Northwest Justice Project, Open Door Legal Services, VA, DSHS Division of Child Support, and the HHS Seattle Regional Office of Child Support Enforcement.

The local partners are recruiting private attorneys to provide pro bono legal services to veterans who need assistance with their child support obligations. Services will include assessments to determine whether the veteran meets criteria for renegotiation of child support payments and assistance with modifying child support obligations and negotiating payment arrangements and adjustments for child support arrears. Experienced mentors will be available to assist volunteers in providing these services.

If you are interested in volunteering for this project, please contact Bridgette Murphy, Northwest Justice Project, 206.464.1519 ext. 615, .

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Aug 2/San Francisco, CA - Stepping up Justice for Veterans as They Stand Down

This 90-minute free CLE will examine emerging best practices such as Veteran Treatment Courts designed to help reduce criminal recidivism among current and future veterans while assisting them in obtaining supervised therapeutic treatment. The VA recently signaled its enthusiastic support of this remarkable court model by designating 153 Veterans Justice Outreach workers at V.A. hospitals to coordinate with local courts to help divert veterans with PTSD, TBI, or other clinical needs from jails or prison. 


Recognizing this effort's enormous potential, the ABA developed policy promoting Veterans Treatment Courts based upon emerging best practices, and this CLE will provide the tools that lawyers and judges will need in order to implement this model effectively in their jurisdictions. We will examine the full range of offenses that these courts are addressing and discuss the courts' experiences with balancing public safety with helping veterans receive therapy and support in community based settings. Panelists will also highlight model pro bono programs aimed at assisting veterans to obtain benefits as well as child support modifications, including an exciting national pilot project recently launched by the ABA, the VA and the Office of Child Support Enforcement aimed at addressing arrears which often serve as barriers to employment and housing.



Stepping up Justice for Veterans as They Stand Down

Monday August 02 , 2010

  • By: American Bar Association
  • Time: 2:00 PM - 3:30 PM
  • Time Zone: Pacific Time (US & Canada)
  • Location:
  • Presidential CLE Centre
    Moscone Center West
    Room 3006, 3rd Floor
    San FranciscoCA
  • Amy E. Horton-Newell

  • Source: CALegalAdvocates
Judge Stephen Manley, Veterans Treatment Court, San Jose, CA
Sean Clark, US Department of Veterans Affairs, National Coordinator, Veterans Justice Outreach, Washington, DC
Brian Clubb, National Association of Drug Court Professionals, Alexandria, VA
Antonia Fasanelli, Homeless Persons Representation Project, Baltimore, MD
Paul Freese, Public Counsel, Los Angeles, CA
ara Sommarstrom, Minnesota Justice Foundation, Minneapolis, MN
  • CLE Credit Comments: Free 90 minutes of CLE

Friday, July 9, 2010

July 24 deadline for OEF/OIF PTSD vets

United States Court of Federal Claims logoA July 24 deadline to opt-in to lawsuit for OEF/OIF vets discharged due to PTSD and shorted benefits is coming up fast.

That means if you qualify, NOW is the time to sign up and opt-in. If you don't, you can still sue on your own but it'll be a whole lot harder without the help of your buddies or the lawyers who are working on the case at no cost to the veterans.

You can learn about it at this website:, but here are the key points:
"This website provides information about a class action lawsuit known as Sabo v. United States. This lawsuit is very important to some (but not all) veterans who were diagnosed during military service with post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and then discharged from active duty due, at least in part, to their PTSD.

This lawsuit does not affect most of the tens of thousands of veterans who have been diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) over the last 30 years. It only involves veterans who
(a) served on active duty in the U.S. Army, Navy, Marine Corps, or Air Force,
(b) were found by a Physical Evaluation Board to be unfit for continued service due, at least in part, to the individual's PTSD,
(c) were assigned a disability rating for PTSD of less than 50%, and, as a result,
(d) were released, separated, retired, or discharged from active duty after December 17, 2002, and prior to October 14, 2008 (regardless whether such release, separation, retirement, or discharge resulted in the individual's placement on the Temporary Disability Retirement List).
If you are one of the veterans described above, a legal notice about this lawsuit has been sent to you by the National Veterans Legal Services Program (NVLSP). You should receive this legal notice by January 29, 2010. If you receive this legal notice, please read the four categories on the left of this page and click the category that fits your case. This will describe the additional benefits you potentially could receive if you join this lawsuit.

If you are one of the veterans described above and do not receive a legal notice from NVLSP by January 29, 2010, please click on "I DID NOT RECEIVE THE LEGAL NOTICE" on the left of [the website].
To answer a few more questions that might have occured to you, the website FAQ says
  • The lawyers who represent the veterans in the Sabo lawsuit are not charging the veterans a fee for their services. These lawyers have agreed not to charge you or other class members a fee if you choose to join the lawsuit.
  • If you join this lawsuit, neither the Court nor a military records correction board can reduce the PTSD rating(s) that the PEB assigned to you absent fraud or unusual circumstances.
One problem that I see with all this is that there may be more than a few people with PTSD who aren't receiving their mail at any address that the government has on file. And sometimes mail gets thrown out; it's not a conspiracy, it's just the way things work. So if you think you might qualify or you know someone might qualify, you have about two weeks to contact the National Veterans Legal Services Program Sabo Class Action Litigation and see if you (or the person you know) might qualify. Why not do it now?