70 percent of military and veteran families face at least one legal issue per year
OLYMPIA — To mark the upcoming Veterans Day holiday, Attorney General Bob Ferguson’s Office of Military and Veteran Legal Assistance (OMVLA) today announced a centralized calendar of upcoming free legal aid clinics across the state. These events, which are coordinated with community partners, provide qualifying military personnel and veterans with free assistance for a range of civil legal issues.
“Our state’s military and veteran families deserve our appreciation,” Ferguson said. “The legal community can demonstrate their appreciation by making civil legal aid resources more accessible to service members and veterans facing a legal issue, but who can’t afford to hire an attorney. As someone who comes from a family of veterans, I am proud to partner with others willing to answer the call help address the unmet legal needs of those who have worn the uniform.”
The legal clinic schedule consolidates six months of events from multiple organizations at locations around the state. The schedule is available online at www.atg.wa.gov/veteran-and-military-resources. OMVLA created the coordinated calendar of events and opportunities so military service members and veterans have easy access to information about how to find legal help and resources. The calendar covers the first six months of 2020 and will be updated as more events are scheduled.
“It is good knowing there’s a place veterans can go to learn about legal resources and opportunities to get connected to assistance from an attorney, because it can be hard to know how to deal with a legal issue on your own,” said Bill P., an Air Force veteran who was connected to a volunteer attorney at a previous clinic event.
The OMVLA website also features educational resources on laws that offer protections and benefits to military service members and veterans. Legal professionals interested in volunteer opportunities can also find information on how to sign up to serve the state’s military and veteran families.
“As veterans and legal advocates, the Washington State Veterans Bar Association is proud to work with the Washington Attorney General’s Office in assisting our military and veteran communities with their legal needs,” said Caesar Kalinowski IV, Chair of the Washington State Veterans Bar Association. “Consistent with our military ethos of ‘no man or woman left behind,’ our members continue their service to the community by acting as advocates for the 650,000 veterans who reside in the State of Washington.”
Legal assistance is consistently identified as a top unmet need of veterans, with the Legal Services Corporation recently estimating that over 70 percent of households with veterans or military personnel experience at least one civil legal problem every year. While such problems can be similar to those faced by the general population, military service members and veterans can also experience legal challenges that are the result of or complicated by their military service.
“There is definitely a need for more civil legal assistance services for Veterans, and we are excited to help spread the word of the legal clinic events being coordinated by the Attorney General’s Office,” said Lourdes E. “Alfie” Alvarado-Ramos, Director of the Washington State Department of Veterans Affairs. “We work to connect our state’s Veterans to a range of programs and services, but legal help is not something offered by our agency or the federal VA, which is why the effort to improve the availability of legal assistance is so important.”
Today’s announcement of upcoming free legal clinics for Washington’s military service members and veterans is part of Attorney General Ferguson’s ongoing Military and Veterans Initiative. The initiative is Ferguson’s ongoing effort to stand up for Washington’s military service members and veterans, and involves engaging and educating military service members and veterans about their rights and the resources available to them, vigorously enforcing the legal protections within the Attorney General’s authority, and promoting and facilitating access to civil legal services.
The Office of the Attorney General is the chief legal office for the state of Washington with attorneys and staff in 27 divisions across the state providing legal services to roughly 200 state agencies, boards and commissions. Visit www.atg.wa.gov to learn more.
Brionna Aho, Communications Director, (360) 753-2727; Brionna.firstname.lastname@example.org