Veterans Legal Corps serves Illinois veterans
By Emily Vock and Eric Bulman, Land of Lincoln Assistance Foundation, Champaign
As our nation takes time to reflect on the sacrifices of veterans and celebrate their heroism, the legal community would be remiss if they did not stop to consider what we can do to give back to the men and women who have selflessly served our country. For many veterans, access to the legal system proves to be a difficult challenge once they have returned from service. According to an annual survey by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, access to legal services is one of the top ten unmet needs for veterans. Thankfully, the challenges faced by veterans in the legal system are not going unnoticed, and a partnership between Equal Justice Works and AmeriCorps has created the Veterans Legal Corps. This group of thirty-six attorneys across the country is serving the legal needs of low-income and homeless veterans. Veterans Legal Corps members are working to reduce homelessness, improve economic security, and enhance quality of life among veterans through access to legal services.
Two of these Veterans Legal Corps attorneys are working in Illinois at Land of Lincoln Legal Assistance Foundation's Eastern Regional Office in Champaign and can be reached at 217-356-1351 (ext. 119 and 122) or firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com. Land of Lincoln serves low-income and elderly clients throughout central and southern Illinois. The Veterans Legal Corps lawyers are working with the VA Illiana Health Care System in Danville, the VA outpatient clinic in Decatur, and local Salvation Army offices to reach out to veterans throughout central Illinois.
In just over two months since the program was launched, the Veterans Legal Corps Fellows have helped veterans gain access to public housing; obtain veterans benefits; appeal Social Security and Medicaid decisions; relieve consumer and medical debt; and address family law issues. One homeless veteran recently called Land of Lincoln, having been rejected for subsidized housing due to an old debt to a prior landlord. Three weeks after our advocacy, the client called the office from his new subsidized apartment, free from the prior debt. Serving the legal needs of veterans allows the legal community to thank our veterans for their selfless service to our nation and improve their lives at home.
This November, take time to thank a veteran in whatever way you can. Whether you show your gratitude with a simple “thank you” or get involved in pro bono work focused on meeting the legal needs of veterans, our nation’s military members deserve our support.