Volunteer Lawyers Offer Help to Veterans
by: Gail Delaughter, February 18, 2011 10:02:00 pm
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The Houston Bar Association is reaching out to veterans. Local attorneys are providing services free-of-charge to vets who are struggling to get benefits, along with those hoping to resolve family law issues. Gail Delaughter has details.
Houston Bar Association President Mark Kelly was one of the volunteer lawyers who helped with a legal clinic last fall at Ellington Field. Kelly says they offered free services to military reservists who were being deployed overseas. Many of the soldiers were young and had never written a will.
"I think providing them a peace of mind, you know, I've gotten a lot of great thanks from the people involved out at Ellington and I think it did give them, going off to war, that their family would be taken care of."
Kelly says the Houston Bar Association has offered free legal advice to about 37-hundred veterans since they started the initiative in 2008. The organization currently offers legal clinics at Houston's VA Medical Center. They also work with vets at residential facilities.
"You'll see the whole gamut of family law issues, mostly divorce and child custody issue. You'll see a number of disability or veterans' benefits issues. You know, these types of legal problems need to be addressed with attorneys who have specialized training."
And if a veteran has a complex legal case, Kelly says they may be able to get an attorney through the Houston Volunteers Lawyers Program.
"The HVLP has a particular threshold that the can represent low-income citizens in Harris County below a certain level, poverty level. But we've actually raised that for veterans and so it's three hundred, I think it's three hundred percent above the poverty level, and still qualify for services we may provide to them."The Houston Bar Association is holding a free legal clinic for veterans this Saturday. It will be at American Legion Post 490 on Old Galveston Road across from Ellington Field. It's from 9:00 AM to noon. If you'd like to know more about the Bar Association's veterans services, you can go to their website at hba.org.