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In the summer of 2016, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) published a study that answered a troubling question: what was the major reason vets were losing their homes, and become homeless?
Legal aid. A lawyer. They can’t afford it.
The research covered more than 6,000 veterans either living in the streets or in a shelter, many the victims of yet another unfortunate fact: five out of 10 problems leading to homelessness cannot be solved without legal help. They cited fighting evictions, upgrading military discharge statuses as well as restoring a driver’s license as issues that most often led to losing that essential thing that every human should have, every night — a roof over your head.
Thankfully, there are resources and centers that can find veterans free legal aid. Here’s a list of them:
American Bar Association: Here you’ll find a map that serves as a directory for each state, and the pro bono resources for vets within them. Simply click on your state to bring up a list of contact information.
Stateside Legal: A site dedicated to “legal help for military members, veterans and families.”
Center for Veterans’ Advancement: CVA provides legal representation to vets and their families.
The Veterans Consortium Pro Bono Program: They provide pro bono (“free of charge”) attorneys to “financially qualified veterans with meritorious claims when their benefits appeals reach the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims.” They also mentor volunteer attorneys who want to join their mission.
Veterans Justice Outreach Program: Part of the VA, it exists to provide direct outreach, assessment and case management for vets facing court dates.
Free Legal Clinics in VA Facilities: A PDF of every VA center that houses a legal clinic, complete with addresses and contact information (emails and phone numbers).
On the Horizon …
There’s also this piece of stalled legislation, sponsored by Senator Tom Udall of New Mexico, called the “veterans omnibus bill.” In it, section 608, authorizes the VA to provide funding to places that offer civil legal services to vets who are homeless or at risk of being homeless.
The last action on it was from April 7, 2017: “Read twice and referred to the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.”
If you’d like to reach out to your representatives regarding the bill, you can find their names and contact information by clicking here.