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by James R. Silkenat, President, American Bar Association
America's lawyers join the rest of the nation on Veterans Day in honoring those who have served for their crucial contributions to preserving our democratic rule of law. The American Bar Association is calling attention to the following military-assistance programs and is encouraging all lawyers to volunteer on behalf of those who have protected the freedoms we cherish:
ABA Home Front (www.abahomefront.org) is a source of free publications and easy-to-understand information on a variety of legal topics that military families face every day—from custody issues to dealing with one's mortgage company while deployed. The website also provides a directory of legal services that help military families. Lawyers seeking pro bono opportunities can sign up on the website as well.
The ABA Military Pro Bono Project (www.militaryprobono.org) accepts case referrals for civilian pro bono lawyers from military lawyers on behalf of junior-enlisted, active-duty military personnel and their families. A related initiative, Operation Stand-By, enables military lawyers to seek case advice from volunteer civilian lawyers. Volunteer lawyers can sign up on the Military Pro Bono Project website.
The Veterans' Claims Assistance Network (www.ambar.org/vcan) will help the many wounded and disabled veterans who must wait too long to receive the disability benefits they have earned. Working in close cooperation with the Veterans Administration, the ABA is recruiting volunteer lawyers to help veterans complete their claims packages for expedited review by the VA—at no cost to the veteran. Lawyers who want to volunteer can sign up on the Veterans Claims Assistance Network website.
The ABA Commission on Homelessness and Poverty (www.ambar.org/homeless) conducts programs and advocacy on behalf of homeless veterans, who comprise a significant segment of the homeless population. Volunteer lawyers can sign up for an ABA project in cooperation with the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Veterans Affairs to help homeless veterans comply with child support obligations.
The ABA Coordinating Committee on Veterans Benefits and Services (www.ambar.org/veterans) pulls together all of the resources mentioned plus additional military-related activities throughout the ABA.