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Bar News - May 14, 2010

Veterans’ Needs Increasing


As the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan move into their seventh and eighth years respectively, it is sometimes difficult to think of the troops as individuals, rather than as groups of warriors engaged in desert and mountain battles, skirmishes that one sees on the news, but somehow doesn’t relate to. It’s all so far away….

Unless the son of a next door neighbor dies – or comes home minus an arm or leg – or one encounters a vet on the street, still wearing his flak jacket and mumbling to himself….Maybe then the wars become as close as that boy who sat beside your daughter in Math class and is now with Special Forces on the border of Afghanistan and Pakistan, plotting trajectories for missiles. Or perhaps the reality of military service comes as close as the woman who worked beside you, but was called up by the Reserve and had to leave her family once again to go to Iraq for a second tour.

It’s hard to imagine that those who fight these battles for us would ever have to ask twice for the help/benefits they deserve, both by law and by simple gratitude.

But so it is. Every day, there’s an item in the news about a veteran or a veteran’s family that cannot get the help they need because of some legal hassle. Many attorneys know about these problems:
  • Vets denied their disability rights, either for physical disabilities or for PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) or TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury);
  • Vets and their families put out of their homes because of foreclosures;
  • Vets returning to areas of the country where the economy is so feeble they can’t find work;
  • Vets who need help putting their families back together after months/years of separation.
More money is desperately needed to fund programs to help returning servicemen and their families. In the meantime, however, many lawyers have stepped forward to help on a pro bono basis, so returning vets and those still currently serving will have top-notch legal help.

There is a national organization, under the auspices of the ABA, called Lawyers Serving Warriors that provides free legal representation "through a network of law firms and corporate law departments for troops and veterans navigating government agencies," as their website says. To read more – and possibly volunteer – just Google "Lawyers Serving Warriors."

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