Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Representing Washington State Veterans: Basic Legal and Cultural Concepts

The Northwest Justice Project recently published a “Representing WA Veterans” Manual on Washington Law Help, the website for low-income WA residents seeking information on legal issues.
Its intended audience is legal aid advocates who have veteran clients, but it may be useful to veterans themselves and other counselors and case managers who work with veterans.
The authors are Attorney Lauren Peach, Equal Justice Works AmeriCorps Fellow at NJP's Veterans Project) and Leo Flor, a law student at the University of Washington. When Lauren started at NJP, she had a lot to learn about veterans services and referrals in Washington State. It took more than six months to begin to understand the multitude of services and benefits available to veterans. In that time she realized two things: first, that there is no one place a veteran or an advocate can go that gives one an overview of the military, veteran services, or referrals in Washington State. Second, Lauren spent a lot of her time answering the same technical legal questions from other advocates at NJP and partner organizations. There were no written materials she could send to the advocates explaining the answers to these questions.
This manual attempts to fill these gaps. 

Get The Manual Now!
The Northwest Justice Project (NJP) is Washington State’s largest provider of civil legal services to low-income Washington residents and a proud member of Washington’s Alliance for Equal Justice. With state and federal funding, NJP has 17 offices around the state, and serves between 16,000-20,000 low-income clients annually. This group of clients has historically included veterans, but no focused outreach and capacity focused exclusively on assisting low-income veterans as a distinct population with unique needs and abilities. Growing recognition of this gap in services inspired NJP attorneys to begin focusing on veterans. Concurrently, the Equal Justice Works AmeriCorps legal fellowship program perceived this same gap in services at the national level and in 2010 began offering one-year fellowships to legal aid organizations to fill the gap. NJP received one of those fellowships, supplemented by funding through the King County Veterans Levy, Washington State Department of Veteran Affairs, the Washington State Bar Association’s LAMP (Legal Assistance to Military Personnel) section, and the Osborne Family Foundation. NJP’s Veterans Project is the product of this collaborative funding and community support that enabled NJP to hire in August 2010 one full-time attorney to work exclusively with veterans.

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