Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Philadelphia Bar Association Military Assistance Program

The Military Assistance Program of the Philadelphia Bar Association serves active duty members of the military and their families in Southeastern Pennsylvania. The legal services are provided free of charge by volunteer attorneys.

Calls are handled by the MAP “hotline” at 215-238-6388. There is a voice mail system if staff is not available to answer the line, and messages are returned within 24 hours.

For Lawyers

To volunteer for this program an attorney must
1) be licensed to practice in Pennsylvania,
2) carry professional liability insurance and
3) possess a willingness to providepro bono services to our fighting men and women and their families on short notice.
To participate, see this FAQ and Application.
Membership in LRIS is not required to volunteer for this program.

This program is part of the nationwide LAMP (Legal Assistance for Military Personnel) effort spearheaded by the ABA.

Monday, April 25, 2011

McChrystal and Sherrod: A Case of Government Treatment of Military Members and Civilians Explored

Brandon S. Bruce writes in the Philadelphia Bar Association's "Upon Further Review":
"Recently there were two highly covered incidents involving two workers of federal agencies who had private discussions, which ultimately made their way into National headlines and resulted in the abrupt dismissal of both workers. The first was General Stanley McChrystal, former top U.S. Commander in Afghanistan, who tendered his resignation after he and his aides were quoted mocking and making critical comments concerning key members of the Obama Administration in a Rolling Stone magazine article. The second was Mrs. Shirley Sherrod, a former U.S. Agriculture Department (“USDA”) employee, who was asked to resign after she made a speech at a dinner hosted by the NAACP in which she discussed how she overcame her prejudice against a white farmer and ultimately helped the farmer and his wife save their farm from foreclosure.

What one must acknowledge is that there are a number of differences between these two individuals as well as the events surrounding their much publicized dismissals. Although their situations are superficially analogous, as workers employed by federal agencies who were asked to resign, the truth is the rules and norms that control for each individual involved differ greatly. For example, Mrs. Sherrod is governed by civilian law, whereas General McChrystal’s actions are governed by the Uniform Code of Military Justice (“UCMJ”) and civilian law. In addition, there is a vast disparity in the responsibility that each shouldered in their respective roles. Note that General McChrystal was a general officer and former top Commander of the longest War in U.S. history who had a direct line to the President whereas Mrs. Sherrod’s was a modest regional employee of the USDA whose duties were relegated to that of the state of Georgia.

Nevertheless, seeing as though both of these individuals created quite a stir with their remarks, it is valuable to reevaluate the predicament of Mrs. Sherrod and General McChrystal due to the widespread aftershocks that ensued as a result. For instance, Mrs. Sherrod’s case caused debate among pundits and critics alike and began an open debate on the role of the media in race relations whereas the General McChrystal controversy prompted the Pentagon to send out a memo to top military officials stating that officials will need “clearance for interviews and other dealings with reporters;” effectively restricting the level of access that military officials have with the press corps. I think it is intriguing and worthwhile to examine both of these situations in the context of the diverging civilian and military settings in order to demonstrate how differently the results would have been from a legal perspective had Mrs. Sherrod been a member of the military and if General McChrystal were working as a civilian....

CONTINUED at "McChrystal and Sherrod: A Case of Government Treatment of Military Members and Civilians Explored

Thursday, April 21, 2011

How To Find a Person's Military Status

To find out if someone is in the U.S. military on active duty, search online at the Defense Manpower Data Center website: Defense Manpower Data Center

This information provided FREE of charge per 50 USC Appx. §§ 501.
Not only does this website tell you the person's status, it creates a PDF of an official report that you may print out!
SSN and Last name, or Date of Birth and Last name, are required fields for a query!

Alternatively, you may contact the data center as follows:
Defense Manpower Data Center
Attn: Military Verification
1600 Wilson Blvd., Suite 400
Arlington, VA 22209-2593
Tel: (703)696-6762 or -5790
Fax: (703)696-4156

Why Would You Want To Do This?
  • If you are representing or opposing a party who states they are a member of the military, it may be prudent to check. Most people are truthful, but "stuff happens"!
  • In some legal matters, the law may require you to file an affidavit stating the military status of the parties you are representing. This is especially important if you are asserting rights, e.g. under SCRA.

Thanks for the head's-up from the Minnesota Judicial Branch:

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Are You or Your Client an "Atomic Veteran?"

The Veterans' Advisory Board on Dose Reconstruction (vbdc website) has some useful information for Veterans of a  certain period:
"An "Atomic Veteran" is specifically defined in legislation as a Veteran who, as part of his or her military service:
  • participated in an above-ground nuclear test, 1945 – 1962; OR
  • was part of the U.S. military occupation forces in or around Hiroshima or Nagasaki before August 1946; OR
  • in some cases, was held as a POW in or near Hiroshima or Nagasaki.
If you are an Atomic Veteran and you have developed one of several specific cancers or nonmalignant conditions, you may be eligible for compensation and⁄or free Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) medical care. If you had a qualifying cancer or condition that was cured or removed, you may still be entitled to compensation if you have residual disability from the condition or its treatments. This compensation would be in the form of a partial or full service-connected disability allowance, including potential payments to your surviving spouse or children. The compensation is because you may have been exposed to ionizing radiation during your military service and that exposure may have caused your cancer or condition.

What should I do if I think I am an Atomic Veteran and think my health has been affected by my military service radiation exposure?

You have three choices:
This website ( has additional information that may help you better understand the compensation program and appropriate contacts. Established by the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) and VA at the request of Congress, the goal of the Veterans' Advisory Board on Dose Reconstruction (VBDR) is to improve the compensation program for Atomic Veterans.
In filing a claim with VA, you need to provide sufficient information about when and where you participated in military service, but you do not need to have information about the radiation dose you received.
Claims may also be filed by surviving spouses and qualifying children who believe that a Veteran's death was due to exposure to ionizing radiation during military service. ..."
Now, what does this mean to representing veterans? It means that you have to asked. Some atomic veterans may not introduce the subject to you in the ordinary course of representation, and may have either forgotten or given up on the possibility of a claim, not realizing that as a result of more recent legislation the door may be open to to some benefits. So if your client is of the relevant age, just ask!

Monday, April 18, 2011

American Corporate Partners Career Counseling/Mentoring Programs

Corporate Counsel employed by some of America's largest corporations and selected academic institutions should consider participating in American Corporate Partners' Career Counseling & Mentoring Program to help members of our warrior community succeed in the civilian workforce.

According to its website, American Corporate Partners (ACP) is "a nationwide mentoring program dedicated to helping veterans transition from the armed services to the civilian workforce through mentoring, career counseling, and networking with professionals from some of America's finest corporations and select universities. ACP is not a jobs program, but a tool for networking and long-term career development."

Eligible Veterans are those who have served on active duty since 2001 as well as the spouses of those service members wounded or killed in action. Those with service-connected disabilities will be given preference. Apply here.
Eligible Mentors are those individuals associated with ACP's Participating Institutions. Legal professionals may be in a great position to mentor veterans into long-term, high-quality careers, so let me urge you (if you qualify) to step up and apply here.

More Information:

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Michigan: Service for Soldiers: Legal Assistance Program

The Macomb County Bar Association Reports:
"The Thomas M. Cooley Law School started the Service to Soldiers: Legal Referral Assistance Program to show our gratitude to those who leave civilian life to serve in Iraq. Thankful for their service, we wish to ease the burden of our returning troops as they try to re-assimilate to civilian life by alleviating their legal concerns.
Many of our troops return to civilian life with relatively little difficulty. But some come home to find that their spouse left them with an empty bank account, or that their job has been given to someone else, or that their cell phone company never stopped charging them after deployment, or that their landlord never refunded their deposit when their lease was voided before they shipped out. These and other similar stories are repeated throughout Michigan. While we celebrate the courage of those who risk their lives when called upon, the harsh reality is that they often come home to face multiple legal issues ranging from relatively small concerns to job loss or even to personal devastation.
Cooley’s Service to Soldiers: Legal Assistance Referral Program offers free legal assistance to military personnel returning from deployment. This unique program offers consultations right at reserve centers and other military locations during drills or military events, and it is the only civilian program in Michigan specifically designed to assist with the immediate needs of military personnel returning from deployment.

If you have questions regarding this program or would like to participate, please contact Heather Spielmaker, Coordinator of the Center for Ethics, Service, and Professionalism at Thomas M. Cooley Law School, at (517) 371-5140, ext. 4112, or at" 

Friday, April 15, 2011

Back From Overseas Service To Find Home Foreclosed With Help Of Guardian Ad Litem

Here's one for the ethics textbook! The Servicemember Civil Relief Act looks pretty straightforward, but a bank can get around it if it's lucky or careful in selection of adverse party.

  • Servicemember is having trouble holding on to house, but it's not in foreclosure yet.
  • Uncle Sam sends servicemember overseas.
  • Bank decides it's time to foreclose, and tells the court it can't find the servicemember.
  • Following the plain text of the Servicemember Civil Relief Act, the Court wants to appoint Guardian Ad Litem (GAL) to represent the servicemember; the banks say "ok, pick this guy" and the Court goes, "oh, alright".
  • The GAL says, "Hey I can't find the servicemember. Take his house!"
  • The bank sets a foreclosure date.
  • On D-Day Minus One, the Servicemember comes home and goes "WTF?"
  • Courts should not pick GALs suggested by adverse parties; the opportunity for corruption is patent.
  • GALs representing servicemembers should ask the government where their client may be; not to do so is plain mainpractice (and possibly evidence of collusion with the party adverse)
  • Servicemembers with financial problems should have a family member being very proactice while they're away.
  • We The People should ask ourselves why it is someone in uniform can't make house payments.
Here's the article --- it's full of gems! Just about everyone named in the stories has their faults (everyone screwed up to one degree or another), but as a lawyer, my favorite screw-up was the GAL whose excuse is that it just didn't occur to him that members of the Coast Guard can be deployed away from their homes (and yet he got paid for that! What a great adverse party for the bank to have!)

Military man returns from war to find home foreclosed

By SHANNON BEHNKEN | The Tampa Tribune
Published: April 15, 2011
CLEARWATER - U.S. Coast Guardsman Keith A. Johnson returned last year from serving overseas to find his bank had foreclosed on his home. It was set to be auctioned off at the courthouse the next day.

It was a shock, Johnson said. He never was served legal notice of the foreclosure lawsuit against him, court documents show.

The lender, Wells Fargo Bank, also failed to serve his wife, although court records show it sent her numerous letters about a modification request — up until a few weeks before a judge granted the foreclosure.
Johnson's case is particularly troubling, military law experts say, because the federal Servicemembers Civil Relief Act is intended to protect military members from losing their homes while away. The act has received national attention in recent months as service members have come forward to complain about foreclosures, and some lenders have admitted to foreclosing in error.

In this case, Wells Fargo told the court it couldn't find Johnson to serve him the suit. So the lender's attorney, in accordance with the Servicemembers act, asked the judge to appoint a guardian ad litem to represent Johnson. The St. Petersburg firm representing Wells Fargo, the Law Office of Douglas C. Zahm, recommended Tampa lawyer Jay D. Passer, and the court approved the appointment.

"It's almost like playing cards against two opposing people and you're by yourself," Johnson said. "On one hand you're playing against this guy, while this guy's over there setting the deck against you."

Three months later, Passer said he also couldn't locate Johnson. He told the court the plaintiff's pleadings "appear to be in compliance" with state law, court records show. That report was key to allowing the foreclosure to proceed.

"That report waived the service member's rights even though the attorney didn't speak with him one time," said Col. John S. Odom Jr., a nationally recognized military lawyer whose book, "A Judge's Guide to the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act," is expected to be released later this year by the American Bar Association.

"The goal of the (ad litem) attorney should not be to move the suit forward," Odom said. "It is to halt the foreclosure until the defendant can defend himself."

Passer told The Tampa Tribune he verified that Johnson was in the Coast Guard but assumed he was living locally.

"I don't think of the Coast Guard as deploying people," Passer said. "It seemed a minimal chance he was overseas. If I had heard anything about him being (overseas), I would have asked the judge for a stay."

That is exactly what should have happened, said Henry P. Trawick Jr., a Sarasota lawyer and author of "Florida Practice and Procedure," a textbook used by lawyers.

"An attorney ad litem is supposed to defend the person just as though they were being paid $1 million a day to do it," Trawick said.

Wells Fargo spokeswoman Vickee Adams said there are details of the case she can't share because of confidentiality laws that protect consumers.

However, she said the lender worked for three years to either modify Johnson's loan or arrange a short sale. She said the couple were aware that the situation was moving toward foreclosure.

"We did everything we could, and there were obligations the homeowner was unable to meet," Adams said. "We followed the service member act by requesting an attorney ad litem, and we were acting on the validity of the court document filed by his court-appointed attorney."

Passer said he sent a letter to the Coast Guard but did not hear back. He told the court he also searched driver's licenses and death records among other databases to try to locate him.

"Some of my letters weren't returned to me, so I assumed [Johnson] got them," Passer said.

St. Petersburg foreclosure defense attorney lawyer Matt Weidner, Johnson's attorney now, said it would have been easy to find him.

"All he had to do is walk up to the Coast Guard gate in Clearwater and say, 'I need to find this guy,' " Weidner said. "The military knows where their people are."

During the process, Johnson's wife had moved in to a different home in Hillsborough County after the couple had their fourth child and needed more room. The bank didn't have trouble finding her there to discuss modification requests, Weidner said.

Vilisia Johnson said she never received letters about the foreclosure and none of the bank representatives she spoke with on the phone told her about them.

"I'd been working with the bank, month after month after month, and they had never mentioned anything" about the foreclosure lawsuit, she said.

The foreclosure was granted in June, and the home was supposed to be sold in August. Since then it's been in limbo.

If the foreclosure was not proper, Adams said, a judge can reverse it.

"We rescind foreclosure sales all the time," she said.

Meanwhile, Johnson waits on his day in court.

He was granted his emergency request to the court to stop the sale of the home. For now, Johnson is living in the home, but Wells Fargo's judgment still stands.

Johnson said he knows he likely would have lost the home even if he had been served notice of the foreclosure lawsuit, but maybe if he had been, he said, he would have done things differently.

"I hope to get this figured out before I'm sent somewhere else," he said.


2nd Annual UNLV Combat Trauma Conference: “She’s back, but she’s not the same!”

2010 marked the first opportunity to bring experts, professionals and returning warriors together for a time to focus on combat trauma, sponsored by the University of Nevada at Las Vegas. This first conference clearly raised consciousness, raised issues and raised commitment among many to maintain the focus and to raise voice to this subject that continues to be heard across the country. This second annual conference will spotlight the issues facing America’s returning women veterans and their unique issues related to combat trauma.

2nd Annual UNLV Combat Trauma Conference: “She’s back, but she’s not the same!”
Focusing on Returning Women Warrior and Veteran Issues

May 25-26, 2011

America's returning OIF-OEF women warriors represents many new impacts of deployment and combat with which America must deal. The numbers begin to tell the tale:

15% ……… of the US Military are now WOMEN.
9,000 ……. WOMEN have received prosthetics.
1 in 5 ……. WOMEN screened reported Military Sexual Trauma.
13,000 …… homeless are WOMEN veterans.
30,000 ….. single MOTHERS deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan.
40% ……… of WOMEN veterans have children.
8.8% …….. of Military WOMEN are divorced annually.
95% ……… of VA programs do not target WOMEN or offer separate housing.

These numbers are staggering, both in their reality and in their effect on families, communities and the nation. The intent of this 2nd annual conference is to further raise the nation’s consciousness of this current reality. But more than that, it is to highlight the resources that are available and those who are already at work helping our women return to full health and productive lives.

May 25-26, 2011
University of Nevada at Las Vegas (UNLV)
TAM Alumni Center
Las Vegas, NV

Early Registration Fee: $100.00
On-Site Registration Fee: $150.00
No cost to Women Veterans

CEU's to satisfy the requirements of multiple professional organizations (including addiction and other health practitioners, therapists, social workers, educators, etc.) are pending professional organization approval and will be offered at no additional cost.

(I don't know whether this event is applying for CLE credit but will check. Legal professionals may wish to help this organization apply for credit in your own jurisdication --- REW)

Contact: Sharon Steinberg, WestCare Foundation


And thanks for the head's-up from One Weary Soldier!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Military Family Studies by RAND Corporation

If you are looking for studies of mlitary families to guide your advocacy and lend a little heft to your arguments,  check out the RAND Corporation's "Military Families" page. Some of their studies (funded, ultimately, by YOUR taxpayer dollars and made available to you for free):

"Extended and repeated deployments can cause significant stress to military families and may result in lower levels of reenlistment. RAND research has explored the need for military-sponsored child care and the role of military spouses, and continues to provide guidance to policymakers on how to attract and retain personnel with essential skills while also supporting military families.

Army Children with a Parent Deployed Nineteen Months or Longer Experien ce More Academic Difficulties — Apr 4, 2011
Army children whose parents have deployed 19 months or more since 2001 score lower on standardized tests than other Army children whose parents have deployed for shorter periods of time.

The War Within: Suicide Prevention in the U.S. Military — Feb 17, 2011
The increasing number of suicides is causing concern in the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD). Suicide-prevention programs in DoD and across the services have some (but not all) of the characteristics of comprehensive programs.

Views from the Homefront: How Military Youth and Spouses Are Coping with Deployment — Jan 19, 2011
Reports the results of a longitudinal study of youth from military families and their caregivers concerning their emotional well-being and how well they are coping with servicemembers' extended deployments.

Children and Spouses of Deployed Military Members Report Challenges as Responsibilities Increase — Jan 19, 2011
Children and spouses of military members deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan report facing challenges as family relationships change and they assume more responsibility for household duties during deployment.

Measuring Underemployment Among Military Spouses — Feb 26, 2010
Comparisons of military wives with a group of similar civilian wives show that the former have a much greater tendency to be underemployed. However, there does not seem to be a strong link between military wives' labor force position and satisfaction with their life situation.

The Impact of Parental Deployment on Child Social and Emotional Functioning: Perspectives of School Staff — Jan 1, 2010
Studies the effect of parental deployment on the well-being of children, and whether and how parental deployments affect the behavioral, social, and emotional outcomes of youth in the school setting.

Longer Parental Deployment Linked to More Emotional Challenges for Military Children — Dec 8, 2009
Children in military families may suffer from more emotional and behavioral difficulties when compared to other American youths, with older children and girls struggling the most when a parent is deployed overseas.
RAND adds studies to this topic frequently, so if serving military families is in your interest area, you may wish to check back monthly or sign up for their email updates.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Original Lawyers for Warriors Program is available on web!

The original "Lawyers For Warriors" program is still available on the web, through the courtesy of, divided for convenience in two parts:
Hosted by the Washington State Bar Association Peace Through Law Section, cosponsored by the WSBA Legal Assistance to Military Personnel (LAMP) Section, this program was Dec 27, 2007 noon-5p.m. at the Washington State Bar Association and sought to provide free education to attorneys seeking to provide assistance to our warrior community: servicemembers, veterans and families.
While some of the content has been superceded by improvements in the law, the basic issues remain relevant to lawyers and warriors alike.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Free JAG Membership in ABA

The American Bar Association offers free membership for recently licensed Judge Advocates.

  • Currently an active-duty Judge Advocate
  • Licensed to practice law for five years or less.
JAGs who are otherwise qualified for this program but have already paid dues may contact the ABA Service Center at 800-285-2221 to inquire about a refund.

Two Divisions - General Practice, Solo and Small Firm Division and Government and Public Sector Lawyers Division - are offering one year of free membership upon enrollment.

More Information and Registration:

Monday, April 11, 2011

Gaffe may shortchange wounded vets

Carl Prine of the Pittsburgh News-Tribune reports:
"For more than five years, thousands of wounded and injured military reservists and National Guard troops nationwide might have lost medical benefits because of a Pentagon mistake, according to an investigation by Sen. Ron Wyden.
In a letter sent on Wednesday to Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, the Oregon Democrat said that many wounded troops returning from Afghanistan and Iraq who ended up in Warrior Transition Units at military bases or in community-based programs near their homes lost up to six months of medical coverage that's provided to them under a 2005 law.
The Transition Assistance Management Program, or TAMP, was supposed to help personnel returning from active duty get the medical care they needed before their civilian coverage kicked in. The problem was that the Pentagon began counting the 180 days of coverage the moment the troops returned to the United States, not once they left active duty.
Those who needed extensive care in the Warrior Transition Units often exhausted their six months of benefits before they went home, according to Wyden. Pentagon paperwork leaked last year to the Tribune-Review showed that the typical reservist or Guard member will spend about a year in the special medical units, or longer if they're in a community-based program.
While many of those troops received federal medical insurance in retirement packages, others didn't. Neither Wyden nor the Pentagon can estimate exactly how many thousands lost out on the care they needed..."
Continued: Gaffe may shortchange wounded vets - Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
More Information
Veterans who may find themselves in this condition may wish to contact Congress for assistance.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Physical Disability Board of Review for post-9/11 Medical Separations reports a new program that all advocates for recent veterans should be aware of:
"Service members who have been medically separated since September 11, 2001 will have the opportunity to have their disability ratings reviewed to ensure fairness and accuracy. 
The new Physical Disability Board of Review (PDBR) will examine each applicant’s medical separation, compare DoD and VA ratings, and make a recommendation to the respective Service Secretary (or designee.) A disability rating cannot be lowered and any change to the rating is effective on the date of final decision by the Service Secretary. 
To be eligible for PDBR review, a service member must have been medically separated between September 11, 2001 and December 31, 2009 with a combined disability rating of 20 percent or less, and not found eligible for retirement. 
There are significant differences between this new PDBR review and a Board for Correction of Military (or Naval) Record (BCMR/BCNR) review. These differences are outlined here and are also in the instructions accompanying the application (form DD-294). 
While the Air Force is the lead for the PDBR process, case tracking and reporting, a joint service board will conduct the evaluation and review of each case. Applicants will not be able to appear in person, but may include any statements, briefs, medical records or other supporting documents with their application. After the document review is completed and a final decision is made, each applicant will be notified of the decision and any further information regarding a change of rating. 
A final version of the application (form DD-294) was approved on January 9, 2009 and is available at (under "DoD Forms Inventory 0001-0499"). Applications are now being accepted.
Please refer to the FAQ document for more information about the Physical Disability Board of Review."



Thursday, April 7, 2011

Indiana Lawyers For Soldiers

Indiana Lawyers for Soldiers is an amazing network of volunteers who give legal services for Indiana National Guard personnel & families who are deployed or returning from a deployment. The following information is taken directly from their website.
Soldiers in need of legal assistance are referred to attorneys who volunteer their time and experience to assist the myriad of legal issues that arise during the deployment of these local heroes.

Soldier Registration Information

 As a member of the Indiana National Guard, if you or a family member is deployed or returning from deployment and is seeking legal assistance, please complete the online application -
Your online application will be forwarded to the Indiana National Guard. Thereafter, you will be contacted by the Indiana National Guard personnel to complete the screening and eligibility process.
After the Indiana National Guard has approved your case for the program, you will be matched with a volunteer lawyer based on the information provided in your application, namely (1) description of the legal issues, and (2) your location in Indiana. Once your case is assigned to a lawyer, he or she will contact you directly.

Lawyer Registration Information

If you would like to be included in this network of volunteer attorneys, please complete the online application - The database will match you with a case based on the information provided in your application, namely practice area/interest and location.
When a pro bono case meeting your criteria is identified, you will be contacted by phone and e-mail. Once you agree to accept the case, you will be provided with a summary of the case and any related documents. Indiana National Guard personnel will have your information on file, as well. You are responsible for initiating contact with the client. Clients are instructed not to contact you, so it is extremely important that you initiate contact with the client as soon as possible (preferably within five business days of case assignment).
Indiana is to be congratulated for this program!

Salute the Sponsoring organizations:

Learn More:

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

H.R. 1154: Veterans Equal Treatment for Service Dogs Act

Veterans would be automatically approved to use their service dogs at all Department of Veterans Affairs facilities nationwide under bipartisan legislation to be introduced Thursday the H.R. 1154: Veterans Equal Treatment for Service Dogs Act or "VETS Dogs Act". 
Currently the VA allows dogs into their facilities, if they are seeing-eye dogs, but service dogs is a matter of local discretion. This can be a problem, according to a recent article in Stars And Stripes:
"AMVETS officials said the use of service dogs to assist wounded troops with brain injuries and missing limbs has increased in recent years, and will likely rise even more in the coming decade. The animals can act as an extra set of hands or legs for troops with severe physical injuries, and provide protection and a sense of calm for veterans suffering emotional trauma.
That value, they said, makes it critical that lawmakers address the rules governing their access to VA facilities."
The substantive part of the bill's text is:
"Congress makes the following findings:
(1) The usage of medical service dogs among veterans is increasing.
(2) The Department of Veterans Affairs currently allows seeing-eye dogs in Department facilities.
(3) The Department does not place any limitations on the access of seeing-eye dogs to Department facilities.
(4) The Americans With Disabilities Act requires that a public entity or place of public accommodation modify its polices, practices, and procedures to allow an individual with a disability to use a service animal.
Section 901 of title 38, United States Code, is amended by adding at the end the following new subsection:
‘(f) The Secretary may not prohibit the use of service dogs in any facility or on any property of the Department or in any facility or on any property that receives funding from the Secretary.’."

This bill is in the first step in the legislative process,being sent to a committee for investigation, deliberation, and probably amendment. Most bills and resolutions never make it out of committee, and often citizen input can make the difference.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Free Incorporation Filing Service For Selected Veterans With Disabilities

If you're a lawyer looking for an opportunity to help veterans, look at what this company did and consider whether you can do something similar in your jurisdiction:
"Eric Grayson, co-owner of Corporations & Companies, Inc. (CorpCo), is offering free incorporation filing services to graduates of Syracuse University’s Entrepreneur Bootcamp for Veterans with Disabilities (EBV) program.
CorpCo is an incorporating service agent company located at Foulk and Wilson roads in Brandywine Hundred.
The EBV program offers training in entrepreneurship and small business management to military veterans who have been disabled since 2001.
Grayson sat down with the Community News to discuss CorpCo’s involvement with the EBV program and more.
Q How did you get involved with supporting the EBV program?
Saw a news story about the EBV program and immediately thought it would be something we should be a part of. We contacted the Whitman School of Management at Syracuse University where the program originated and they were equally excited to be able to offer our services to their participants.
Q How long will CorpCo offer a free filing service for EBV graduates?
 Indefinitely. It is a worthwhile commitment we have made and we are very proud to be part of this program.
Q Over the years, have you noticed a trend in military veterans becoming entrepreneurs?
 Nothing of significance, which is why this program is so vital for veterans.
Q Aside from the EBV program, do you plan to offer programs for wounded veterans in Delaware who are interested in starting a business?
We have definite plans to meet with the appropriate officials and attempt to extend the EBV program by introducing it to the University of Delaware (Lerner School of Business), from which I am a graduate. This would enable veterans from the Mid-Atlantic region to have easier access to the program...."

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Apr 13/St. Louis, MO - Veterans Consortium Pro Bono Program Training

The Veterans Consortium Pro Bono Program is seeking volunteer lawyers to assist veterans who claim entitlement to VA benefits. Lawyers do not need to have any prior experience in this area of the law, nor do they need to reside near the Court.
We invite you to attend a training seminar in St. Louis on Wednesday, April 13, 2011, from 9AM to 5PM. This FREE training is co-sponsored by Armstrong Teasdale LLP and the Veterans Consortium and will be held at Armstrong Teasdale's St. Louis Headquarters at 7700 Forsyth Boulevard, Suite 1800, St. Louis, MO 63105.
Lawyers who attend receive a day of free training, a veterans law manual and on-going access to a mentor lawyer. In return for the free training seminar, the lawyer must agree to take a case that has been pre-screened by the Pro Bono Program and is on appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims.

Veterans Consortium Pro Bono Program Training

Wednesday April 13 , 2011
9:00 AM - 5:00 PM

Armstrong Teasdale , Veterans Consortium Pro Bono Program
Armstrong Teasdale
7700 Forsyth Boulevard, Suite 1800
St. Louis, MO

Contact: Meg BartleyVeterans Consortium Pro Bono Program

(202) 621-5670

The seminar is approved for 7.7 Missouri CLE hours. Application is pending for 7.5 Kansas CLE credits.

To register for the training seminar, please complete the training application form. For more information about the Program, or if you have questions, contact Meg Bartley, Director of Outreach & Education, Veterans Consortium Pro Bono Program, (202) 621-5670. We also encourage you to visit the website.

CLE Credit
The seminar is approved for 7.7 Missouri CLE hours.
Application is pending for 7.5 Kansas CLE credits.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Florida's Operation Stand-By Directory

The Florida Bar Military Affairs Committee maintains an  "Operation Stand-By Directory",
 a resource for military and Department of Defense lawyers stationed in Florida seeking the names, addresses, and telephone numbers of volunteer Florida Bar members who are also members of the military who have volunteered to respond to their military counterparts concerning issues pertaining to Florida Law.

The Operation Stand-By Program is limited to advice on subjects which fall within the scope of legal assistance. If the question which the military lawyer has is outside that area, then the military lawyer should refer their client (military member) to The Florida Bar Lawyer Referral Service at 1-800-342-8011 or a Florida Bar-sponsored local bar association lawyer referral service so that they can be referred to a private lawyer.

If you would like to be included in the Directory, please complete and return the form.

The “Operation Stand-By” program is limited to advice on subjects which fall within the scope of legal assistance. If the question which the military attorney has is outside that area, the client should be referred to The Florida Bar Lawyer Referral Service at 1-800-342-8011 or a local bar associatoin lawyer referral service.

Matters which fall within the scope of OPERATION STAND-BY should be handled as follows:

1. Civilian attorneys have indicated the areas of law for which they are willing to give advice. These areas are coded in the listing for each attorney. A key is published in the introductory section. If there is no listing after a particular attorney’s name, he or she made no entry on the application.

2. When a registered military attorney has a question concerning a certain area of the law, he or she should call the nearest available civilian attorney who has volunteered to give advice on that subject. The call is at Government expense.

3. If the civilian attorney cannot answer the question immediately, the two attorneys will make arrangements to communicate at a later time, either by the military attorney calling back the civilian attorney at a pre-designated time or by the civilian attorney calling back the military attorney COLLECT when he or she has the answer. In any event, telephone calls will be at Government expense. The civilian attorney agrees to make arrangements to have the information back to the military attorney within 24 hours after the first conversation.