Every November, Americans pay tribute and offer gratitude to the Veterans who serve and protect our country in both peacetime and during war. As we approach Veterans Day, I tend to think back over the last 3 years we have operated Lawyers 4 Vets, SC Appleseed’s pro bono legal clinic that serves lower income Veterans.
We didn’t know for sure how great the legal needs of our Veterans were when we began the monthly clinic back in 2014. From the very beginning, it was clear that Lawyers 4 Vets filled a void of legal services needed by these Veterans. To date, we have received over 3000 phone calls from Veterans looking for legal help. We cannot help all of these individuals with all of their legal needs, but for those that are in our income range and need help with a will or healthcare power of attorney, an expungement or pardon, or needs help resolving a child support issue, Lawyers 4 Vets is here to help. Since 2014, we have scheduled nearly 900 appointments for our clinics, with 178 appointments scheduled so far in 2017. All this goes to show that the underlying legal need within the lower income Veteran population for these legal services continues.
Since we began Lawyers 4 Vets, we have had an outpouring of support from the legal community. We have gotten an immense amount of positive feedback about what a rewarding experience it is to give back to our Veterans. We have over 100 volunteer attorneys and many local law firms have stepped up to “sponsor” a clinic by providing associates (and often partners) of the firm as volunteers at our monthly clinic.
Some examples of the impact we’ve had together:
- A Lawyers 4 Vets attorney successfully represented a Vietnam Veteran in front of the pardon board, fulfilling the Veterans desire to be a positive role model for his grandchildren.
- A decorated Marine who had gotten into trouble years ago while in high school was able to get a felony conviction expunged that would not have been eligible for expungement without the assistance of the Lawyers 4 Vets volunteer attorney.
- Lawyers 4 Vets attorneys have helped countless Veterans re-negotiate child support obligations so that their payments accurately reflect their ability to pay.
- Lawyers 4 Vets attorneys have drafted many wills and healthcare POAs to help these deserving Veterans know their last wishes are protected.
Lawyers 4 Vets has been a success because of our community partners and our amazing volunteers. If you would like to learn more about volunteering with Lawyers 4 Vets, contact Ashley Thomas at [email protected] . If you are a low-income Veteran or know a Veteran in need of assistance with child support, expungements or pardons, or to have a will drafted, call Lawyers 4 Vets at 877-289-6000.