Serving Those Who Served: Texas Veterans Legal Aid Week

Monday, November 30, 2015

UPDATE | By Texas Access to Justice Foundation

Shaylee, a third-generation Army veteran with eight years’ service, escaped with her two young boys from an abusive home. With nowhere else to turn, she was staying with a friend when she sought help at a legal clinic. Her lawyer got court protection for her and her boys and helped her get back on her feet.  She’s now teaching school, supporting her family, and creating a new life.

Shaylee is one of thousands of veterans helped by legal aid each year.

The Texas Access to Justice Foundation coordinated the second annual Texas Veterans Legal Aid Week (TVLAW), a statewide effort in honor of Veterans Day during the week of Nov. 9-13, to highlight the legal services available to veterans.  Legal aid programs, local bar associations, law schools and pro bono private lawyers provided civil legal services for qualified Texas veterans in more than 50 various locations throughout the state.  Texas Supreme Chief Justice Nathan Hecht and William McRaven, chancellor of The University of Texas System and recently retired U.S. Navy 4-star admiral, drafted an opinion piece that was featured in many statewide daily newspapers. Click here to see a recap of TVLAW events, stories and a video featuring Shaylee’s story.

The Texas Access to Justice Foundation recently announced grants, totaling more than $3.5 million, to 15 nonprofit organizations that will help fund legal aid services for Texas veterans. The 84th Texas Legislature provided $3 million in funding for basic civil legal services for veterans and their families over the next two years. The gala hosted by the Texas Access to Justice Commission also raises much needed grant funding for veterans.

With these grants, public interest and pro bono lawyers will be able to provide legal representation to veterans with civil legal problems such as; denial of critical medical care, problems receiving benefits, legal issues related to disabilities, family law matters arising from deployment, and other issues that may arise due to a veteran’s absence from home during military service.

Texas has the second-highest population of veterans in the nation. According to the Department of Veterans Affairs’ annual survey of homeless and formerly homeless veterans, legal issues account for three of the top 10 unmet needs of homeless veterans.

Our efforts and responsibility to serving those who have served their country does not end with Veterans Day.  Every day our legal aid and pro bono programs assist veterans and others in need of civil legal assistance.  Veterans in need of legal help can call their local legal aid program or the statewide hotline for veteran legal issues at 1-800-622-2520, option 2.