The Veterans Consortium Pro Bono Program: A Call to Service
By Colleen E. Miller, Esq.
*This is an article from the Fall 2023 issue of Combat Stress
My mother is an Air Force Veteran, and my grandfather fought in World War II in the Army Air Corp. He later transitioned into the Air Force, where he spent the remainder of his career. My mother had a long-term partner that was drafted and served in the Vietnam War. When I was a child, he told stories about parachuting into active combat zones and wading through the dense tropical foliage. He was also an alcoholic and, at times, cruel. I sometimes wonder if his life, and my childhood, would have been different if he had the support, services, and benefits that he earned. President George Washington said, “The willingness with which our young people are likely to serve in any war, no matter how justified, shall be directly proportional to how they perceive the Veterans of earlier wars are treated and appreciated by their nation.”
No matter what path one takes to become a lawyer, it is a privilege. With that privilege comes a duty to serve those in need. I started as a volunteer with The Veterans Consortium Pro Bono Program (TVC) in 2018, and now serve as the Deputy Director of Volunteer Outreach Education and Placement. At TVC, “We believe that our Veterans, our nation’s defenders, deserve the care, benefits and compensation that they were promised, and the best legal services, free of charge, to meet their challenges.” More than thirty years ago, with congressional legislation, four national Veterans service organizations, The American Legion, Disabled American Veterans, National Veterans Legal Services Program, and Paralyzed Veterans of America, created TVC to enlist and train volunteer lawyers who, on a pro bono basis, would represent Veterans in appealing denials, reduction, or termination of disability compensation and other benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs. The appeals, heard by the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims, involve a wide range of issues: VA disability, educational assistance, survivor benefits, and pension benefit claims. The injuries suffered by these Veterans run the gamut from psychological to all manner of physical infirmities, including impaired vision, hearing loss, degenerative joint disorders, heart conditions and various types of cancers.
In recent years, TVC has expanded its legal services to address other legal needs for Veterans. These services include our Discharge Upgrade Program, Women Veterans Legal Assistance Program, and Veterans Naturalization Assistance Program. TVC also offers a Veteran and VSO helpline. Our contact information and helpline information can be found here: website, https://www.vetsprobono.org/, helpline no. and e-mail address, (855) 466-9678 or [email protected]