Sunday, January 15, 2012

Veterans, PTSD and Driver Distraction

Two stories tie together. First, from the New York Times:

Back From War, Fear and Danger Fill Driver’s Seat

... For thousands of combat veterans, driving has become an ordeal. Once their problems were viewed mainly as a form of road rage or thrill seeking. But increasingly, erratic driving by returning troops is being identified as a symptom of traumatic brain injury or post-traumatic stress disorder, or P.T.S.D. — and coming under greater scrutiny amid concerns about higher accident rates among veterans.
The insurance industry has taken notice. In a review of driving records for tens of thousands of troops before and after deployments, USAA, a leading insurer of active-duty troops, discovered that auto accidents in which the service members were at fault went up by 13 percent after deployments. Accidents were particularly common in the six months after an overseas tour, according to the review, which covered the years 2007-2010.
The company is now working with researchers, the armed services and insurance industry groups to expand research and education on the issue. The Army says that fatal accidents — which rose early in the wars — have declined in recent years, in part from improved education. Still, 48 soldiers died in vehicle accidents while off duty last year, the highest total in three years, Army statistics show.
The Pentagon and Department of Veterans Affairs are also supporting several new studies into potential links between deployment and dangerously aggressive or overly defensive driving. The Veterans Affairs health center in Albany last year started a seven-session program to help veterans identify how war experiences might trigger negative reactions during driving. And researchers in Palo Alto are developing therapies — which they hope to translate into iPhone apps — for people with P.T.S.D. who are frequently angry or anxious behind the wheel....
Read the whole article at Back From War, Fear and Danger Fill Driver’s Seat.

Now, what does that mean for lawyers?
According to Mark Heiderbrach of The TASA Group, in figuring out legal responsibilities in an accident, one thing to look out for are factors that distract the driver from the task of driving correctly. Experts on "driver distraction" have a whole host of things to consider, but the possible role of PTSD may need to be added.
If you're representing a veteran in an auto accident case - or if you're a veteran who does not WANT to be in an auto accident - see "Driver Distraction: The Human Factor Element" - An Free On-Demand CLE, then add in what you learned from the NYT article. Let's hope you don't have to use it.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Attorneys: Apply for Veterans Consortium Pro Bono Program free Training!

2012 training for the Veterans Consortium Pro Bono Program is open for applications now! This all-day training will be held in Washington DC on April 20, 2012, and can lead not only to a large about of free CLE, but a career-changing opportunity to "do well by doing good".
2012 Training Seminar
April 20, 2012
9:00 AM to 5:00 PM
DC Bar, Washington, DC
DC Bar Pro Bono Program and the Veterans Consortium Pro Bono Program
In order to attend the training, you must complete the application form, which is available here. You would be wise to register early, to avoid disappointment when the program fills up.
The Program provides training free of charge to attorneys who agree to represent a veteran/VA claimant or family member before the Veterans Court. As well as receiving the day-long training, attorneys who participate are assigned a case that has been screened for merit and provided a screening memo outlining the issues in the case. Volunteers are also assigned a mentor (a practicing veterans’ law lawyer or practitioner) to give advice and share sample pleadings. Attorneys also receive the Veterans Benefits Manual (VBM) and other resource materials.

  • Malpractice insurance is provided.
  • CLE credits are available.
Learn more at:

Friday, January 13, 2012

JBLM Foster Parent Recruitment Initiative

The Joint Base Lewis-McChord Foster Parent Recruitment Project formed on JBLM to address the needs of military foster children.  The group is helping advertise the need for military-connected foster homes, both on the installation and in the surrounding communities. Interested families can get licensed if they plan to remain in the JBLM area for as little as one year.  By choosing to become a foster parent, they can help these children to live in the familiar military environment, continue to attend their home school and continue their medical care at from Madigan Healthcare System.
Here's information I just received from them:
Did You Know?
  • There were 72 military children from JBLM who needed foster care placements in 2010.
  • You can be working full time and still be a foster parent.
  • Getting a foster care license in the State of Washington can take as little as 3 months.
  • You may qualify for larger quarters on JBLM if you get licensed as a foster parent.
You can make a difference….. One child at a time.
JBLM is in critical need of military-connected foster homes.
Keeping military children with military foster parents makes sense:
  • They can continue to attend on-post schools, activities, and obtain care in familiar surroundings.
  • The stressors on the child and biological parents are greatly reduced, promoting continuity during a difficult time.
  • Being a foster parent is not a life-long commitment; but creates a sense of accomplishment and service gratification that will last a lifetime.
  • Pierce County’s foster parent recruitment is conducted by Foster Care Resource Network.
OR on JBLM, contact Sandi Vest 253-968-4775

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

The ABA's Operation Home Front

The American Bar Association's Operation Home Front provides an Information Center with a few useful links such as "Working With A Lawyer", Family Law, and the SCRA. If you're servicemember or in the family of a servicemember, it's a good place to look around for ideas, but one of the annoying things about this portal is that it is difficult to tell its advertising block from its main content.
Check it out at .

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Helping US Military Veterans Through Innovative Legal Strategies: on-demand training for law students

Ben Gales, staff attorney leading the New Directions Veterans Court Program at Public Counsel Law Center, will provide an introductory overview of veterans law and discuss innovative legal strategies for assisting military veterans.
This FREE online training series is designed to introduce law students to a variety of public interest topics and legal services programs in California.
This webinar is intended to provide legal information, not legal advice and is for the purposes of training only. The legal information in this webinar is not intended to be a substitute for seeking personalized legal advice from an attorney licensed in your jurisdiction. Further we do not intend to create an attorney-client relationship with any listener. 

Helping US Military Veterans Through Innovative Legal Strategies
Legal Aid Association of California
This event does not grant Continuing Legal Education credit. View it for information only!