Today the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) together with representatives from the departments of Labor, Justice, Defense, Homeland Security, the U.S. Navy and others, signed a joint statement aimed at improving access to free legal services for Veterans in need.
Federal agencies and the Veterans legal services community came together at VA headquarters in Washington D.C. to celebrate VA’s Medical Legal Partnerships and to recognize volunteers who serve at VA-based free legal clinics.
Currently, VA hosts at least 170 free legal clinics in its VA Medical Centers, Community Based Outpatient Clinics and Vet Centers across the country, by partnering with external legal service providers, such as local bar associations, legal aid organizations and law school clinics.
“Legal assistance stands high on the list of many Veterans’ important but unmet needs,” said VA Secretary Robert Wilkie. “Our goal is to make sure our Veterans have access to not only health care and disability benefits, but to community legal services that are central to their overall well-being.”
Veterans often face stressful legal situations — such as eviction, foreclosure, child support or driver’s license revocations — that can affect their ability to gain or maintain employment and housing, or focus on medical treatment. At the VA-hosted event today, VA and other federal agencies committed to encourage and further the provision of volunteer legal services to Veterans.
As a prime example of the VA-based legal clinics nationwide, attorneys and paralegals from VA and 13 other federal agencies have provided pro bono legal assistance on their own time to Veterans at the Washington, D.C., VA Medical Center’s legal clinic, run by the Veterans Pro Bono Consortium. During the past year, the legal clinic at that facility has served more than 800 Veterans.
For more information about VA’s coordination of legal services for Veterans at VA facilities visit www.va.gov/OGC/LegalServices.asp.