Veterans are often faced with tough legal challenges. In fact, legal issues account for five of the top 10 unmet needs of homeless veterans (VA 2021 Annual Survey). With the help of SALSA’s veterans team and committed volunteers, these needs are now being met in ‘Military City USA’. Whether by helping veterans obtain benefits they earned through their service or assisting warriors with PTSD with having a criminal record expunged, or assisting those who are saddled with debt issues by federal agencies who are supposed to support them, SALSA is there to help veterans who can’t afford lawyers.
SALSA hosts legal clinics for veterans every second Friday of the month where veterans can meet with volunteer attorneys, learn about their rights, and find out how they can protect themselves. The clinics are at no cost to the veteran and are primarily staffed by volunteer attorneys. To find out more about their impact, we spoke with Judge Larry Noll who has been a part of SALSA’s veterans initiative since our organization’s inception of these efforts.
Judge Noll credited late San Antonio attorney, Allan K. Dubois, a veteran himself and the co-founder of Texas Lawyers for Texas Veterans, for the continued success of the veterans program. Allan was instrumental in keeping the Veterans Clinic going because he didn’t just volunteer, he recruited other lawyers who were veterans to help out at the legal clinics. Judge Noll was also present every month to prove-up uncontested civil cases during his service as Judicial Co-Chair.
Judge Noll spoke about how pro bono legal services impact veterans:
“Veterans gave, and many of them gave a lot. They might have lost a limb, or are hearing impaired, or sight impaired so it was only logical for us find veteran lawyers or non-veteran lawyers who recognize that they gave great service to help all of us – our community and country. Veterans are often a bit hesitant to admit that they need help. [Volunteers saw that] these guys gave, [and that we can] give some time to pay them back… for what they did. ”
By offering readily available access to legal services veterans are more willing to accept the help that they deserve. SALSA seeks to offer approachable legal services to veterans throughout the community at outposts like the Veterans Outreach and Transition Center and at VA facilities.
Judge Noll also recounted his experience serving the veteran community at legal clinics:
“Volunteers have an opportunity to work outside of their comfort zone and to use skills that they may not otherwise have been able to use in and outside the courtroom. Veterans deserve our attention, our help, and our respect. It is important for us to understand their struggles and do what we can to make their lives easier. We’re all in this together, and if we can’t take care of each other then who will?”
Register for an upcoming Veterans’ Legal Advice Clinic on SALSA’s Event Calendar (www.sa-lsa.org/events).