Presidentís Perspective: Efforts to Assist Veterans Under Way
By: Larry Vogelman
Lawrence A. Vogelman
Over the last decade, our country has been involved in two wars. Since we no longer have a draft, these wars have been fought by the men and women in our volunteer services, National Guard and reserves. Unlike wars we fought in the 20th century, our wars now are being fought by only 1 percent of the population. Many of us, upon meeting our troops, thank them for their service, as well we should. Unfortunately, thanks alone do not satisfy our obligations to our returning troops.
The devastation of war is not limited to the battlefield. Men and women returning from deployment carry part of that devastation home. We have an obligation to our troops returning from deployment to provide support and services.
When I became president of the NH Bar Association, I stated that one of my goals was to have our association, in some small way, support our returning veterans. We are in the process of organizing this effort. A task force has been assembled and is composed of lawyers, judges, veterans, and veterans specialists to formulate our initiatives.
We are focusing on two areas. The first is to provide legal services to veterans in the civil arena. In particular, we will be focusing on homeless veterans in New Hampshire. Sadly, many, if not most, of New Hampshireís homeless are veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. Oftentimes, it is the lack of legal services and support that contribute to veteransí homelessness. Homes are foreclosed on, families torn apart, needed benefits are not obtained, and debts begin to pile higher and higher. These difficulties are often compounded by mental health problems or traumatic brain injuries afflicting our returning veterans. With the help of the Veteranís Administration, we hope to set up a clinic of volunteer lawyers to assist our veterans.
Additionally, in large part due to the problems of mental illness and traumatic brain injury, veterans all too often get enmeshed in our criminal justice system upon their return from war. Services are available to them, but often the veterans are not made aware of these services. We will be assisting in the training of judges, lawyers, and lay advocates to assist veterans charged with criminal offenses.
Larry Vogelman, of Nixon, Vogelman, Barry, Slawsky and Simoneau in Manchester, is the 2012-13 NHBA President.
Editorís note: Efforts to reach out to veterans has already borne fruit in combination with the Pro Bono programís foreclosure relief initiative. A legal clinic focusing on foreclosure issues was scheduled to take place at the Veteranís Administration facility in Manchester on Feb. 19.