Friday, May 27, 2011

Remembering our Troops

In honor of our military veterans, I'm reprinting below a message from ABA President Steven Zack calling for legal help, and providing some resources for lawyers who want to get involved.

Dear Colleagues:


On this Memorial Day, the American Bar Association is calling on all members to assist in a critical effort to support our nation’s veterans. Service men and women have devoted their lives to our country and to protecting our freedom. Now, we ask you to donate your time to assist them.


Veterans face a wide array of legal issues created by their unique circumstances, including challenges in obtaining medical care, disability benefits, reemployment rights, as well as help with consumer, housing, criminal and family law matters, but often are unable to afford legal counsel.


There are many ABA programs making an indelible difference in the lives of our nation's veterans. Our Coordinating Committee on Veterans Benefits and Services web portal provides an entry point for attorneys seeking program information and volunteer activities.


The ABA Commission on Homelessness and Poverty partnered with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Veterans Affairs to launch a national pro bono project providing critical legal assistance to our country's more than 100,000 homeless veterans. This initiative is cited as Signature Initiative #1 in the Administration's plan to end homelessness.


The ABA Commission on Law and Aging has provided four capacity-building mini-grants to non-profits and bar associations to recruit attorneys to provide veterans with pro bono legal assistance. This effort has allowed us to develop VA-accredited video training materials and webinars on veterans’ benefits.


The ABA Section of Administrative Law & Regulatory Practice's Veterans Committee works alongside important groups like the National Veterans Legal Services Program and the Department of Veterans Affairs on efforts to improve administrative procedures in the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims (CAVC). Current efforts are aimed at methods to streamline the appeals process, eliminate lengthy delays in decision-making, and reduce the number of remands to the Board. Proposals for expanding the jurisdiction of the CAVC to provide for de novo review of fact finding by the Board as well as the Federal Circuit, and to provide class action authority for the CAVC are under development.


These ABA programs along with a number of important state and local bar association programs are only effective with the strong commitment of volunteers. We ask that you consider giving your time to aid veterans. To volunteer for an ABA program, visit www.americanbar.org/veterans or send an email to volunteerforveterans@americanbar.org. For a list of programs you can volunteer for in your area, view the Directory of Pro Bono Veterans Resources.


We encourage you to get involved by serving those who have served us.


Sincerely,


Stephen N. Zack
President



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