LSC Veterans Task Force Report
LSC’s Veterans Task Force worked for more than a year in collaboration with its pro bono partner, DLA Piper, to identify ways to strengthen the relationship between legal aid providers and other veterans-serving organizations. The task force's report highlights best practices and model programs that provide effective, integrated services to veterans and offers tips for replicating successful programs. It also offers recommendations for engaging attorneys to provide legal assistance on a pro bono basis.
Military service members dedicate their lives to defending America’s people, freedoms, and ways of life. When they return from serving, they may face legal issues that complicate their lives as Veterans. Civil legal problems — from threatened evictions to other-than-honorable discharges from the military — are often the greatest obstacles to a veteran’s health, housing, stability, and productivity. While civil legal needs are prevalent among veterans, low-income veterans and other military personnel received inadequate or no professional legal help for 88% of their civil legal problems in 2017.
In January 2020, the Legal Services Corporation created the Veterans Task Force to examine the reasons underlying the gap between veterans’ legal needs and the services available to meet those needs. The Task Force’s purposes were to:
- Raise awareness about the civil legal issues veterans experience;
- Identify ways to strengthen relationships between civil legal aid providers and other veteran-serving organizations, including the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), treatment courts, and veterans advocacy organizations;
- Highlight model programs that provide effective, integrated services to veterans; and
- Recommend strategies for engaging attorneys to provide legal assistance to veterans on a pro bono basis, including for complex legal issues.
This Report organizes the Task Force’s recommendations according to audience, including recommendations for:
(1) Civil legal aid providers;
(2) Law firms and corporate law departments;
(4) State and local governments; and
It emphasizes that veterans should not have to fight for basic services when they return home. Instead, they should be able to access the benefits they have earned and so richly deserve. Together, the legal aid, law firm and corporate law, and government communities have the power and resources to fill the veteran service gap. Now is the time for these communities to unite in support of our country’s veterans.