Lawyers Step Up to Help Veterans Gratis
by Laura Parker, USA Today:
Volunteers hope expertise will speed disability claims, improve outcome
WASHINGTON — The scene resembled Hollywood's version of how a multibillion-dollar legal deal might be negotiated. Big-name corporate law firm. Posh conference room, with a conference table so large 70 attorneys fit easily around it. Video technicians, hovering nearby, beam the meeting to other big law firms from Boston to Seattle.
Yet there was no deal to cut. Instead, the high-powered lawyers were getting a tutorial in the arcane vagaries of veterans law.
"This could be the VA's worst nightmare," Bart Stichman [above], one of the organizers, enthused from the podium. "Hundreds of attorneys from around the country providing legal service to veterans for free."
The recent gathering at Sidley Austin, a firm with 1,700 lawyers around the globe, is part of a growing effort to provide free legal help to thousands of veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan who are trying to win disability benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).
"There are 100,000 veterans seeking benefits, and too many of them are waiting too long to get them," says Ron Abrams, who, with Stichman, directs the National Veterans Legal Services Program, a non-profit group in Washington spearheading the effort. "These lawyers are going to treat these veterans the way they would treat their corporate clients." [ . . . ]
Operation Yellow Elephant salutes the National Veterans Legal Services Program and its veteran clients for their service and dedication to our country AND its veterans and wishes them all the best.
Have we asked these lawyers whether any of them are personally eligible to serve in our military [healthy heterosexuals 41-or-under]? No, we have not. Here's one reason why not.
What they have volunteered to do is of great importance not only to veterans directly assisted, but, even more so, to our nation, namely: holding our national civilian political leadership accountable for their accomplishments.
Hat tip also to TalkingPointsMemo.