Stand Downs are all-day events designed to meet the basic needs of primarily homeless veterans by providing services such as food, shelter, clothing, health screenings, and government benefits counseling together in one place. The goal is to provide the tools necessary for homeless veterans to overcome barriers to independent living and address longer term rehabilitative objectives through referrals for more extensive follow up services including health care, housing, employment, legal issues and substance use treatment. Stand Downs are collaborative events, coordinated between local VAs, other government agencies, and community agencies serving the homeless.
For the second year in a row, the Armed Forces Committee, in coordination with the California Women's Law Center, helped provide pro bono legal services at a Stand Down that specifically addresses the needs of women veterans. Women veterans, who were often the victims of Military Sexual Trauma ("MST"), while in service, are even more likely to become homeless than their male counterparts and Southern California is home to the largest homeless population of female vets in the nation.
This year's event was held on July 19th from 9:00 am-5:00 pm at Shoreline Aquatic Park in Long Beach. 38 women came to the legal intake table for screening and advice and LACBA volunteers were available to consult on family law as well as tickets and warrants and other criminal related issues. Click on any picture below...
2014 Armed Forces Ball:
Supporting LACBA's Veterans Project at Patriotic Hall
Click Here for Photos and Highlights of
LACBA's 2014 Annual Armed Forces Ball
Case Study: John and Demian
John is a veteran who served 11 years honorably in the United States Army, including a combat tour attached to an Army Ranger unit in Grenada that lost six men. After military life, John had trouble adjusting to the civilian world.
His service was followed by 20 years of homelessness, mental health challenges and substance abuse. On the streets he received numerous citations all over Los Angeles County which prevented him from obtaining a driver's license and a chance at regular employment. Then he met his sponsor who connected him with veterans' affairs programs and the Center For Veterans Advancement, which partnered with the Los Angeles County Bar Association to provide pro bono legal assistance to veterans and train lawyers who are interested serving veterans.
It was there that John was introduced to Demian who became involved in representing veterans following a LACBA workshop on clearing outstanding tickets and warrants.
Demian has provided pro bono representation to John in several courts throughout Los Angeles County…helping him clear 9 of 11 outstanding tickets and warrants so far, with the remaining matters expected to be resolved shortly.
In each case, Demian shared John's story, including his service record and multiple letters of support and in all cases the judges agreed to dismiss the citation in the interest of justice.
John has now been off the streets and sober for over a year, and has already been accepted to several commercial driving schools once the remaining outstanding tickets are resolved and removed from his record.
John in the third veteran Demian has assisted since taking the workshop.
A SOLDIER SAYS THANK YOU
The following letter was addressed to several attorneys, as well as to the LACBA Armed Forces Committee:
To those of you who may be reading this, not directly addressed, my name is ____, and I'm a Petty Officer Third Class serving active duty in the United States Navy.
I (and my command) want to personally thank you for the tremendous aid that you are providing me. When I think about how your firm has defended my paternal rights, it brings me to tears. I've been fighting a good, honest fight for several years now and I have endured a considerable amount while pursuing the most basic visitation agreement. As a result of your intervention, I have been able to continue to see my son. But the most rewarding gift you've given me is the opportunity to show him that I love him.
You witnessed the injustice I underwent and intervened on my behalf allowing me to serve my country on deployment. You have helped me sleep more restfully at night. My quality of life has significantly improved since you have taken the case. You have given me peace of mind, relieving a weight from my family. Your presence alone has stopped the libel, the harassment, the unfounded DCFS investigations and the calls to the police. You have given me a new perspective, optimism, hope and serenity. I call everything that has transpired from my initial request for aid to this moment, a miracle.
I am quite exhausted while typing at the moment, as I am sure most of your clients are after a day in court but it is of no matter as there are no words for the level of gratitude that I wish to express to you.
LACBA's Armed Forces Committee is made up of a network of lawyers, many of whom having military experience, who are dedicated to provide pro bono legal assistance to veterans, and who are working to coordinate with existing legal service and other nonprofit organizations by developing programs to support and complement each other's efforts.
LACBA Immigration Legal Assistance Project Helps Veterans in Need
Surprisingly, many men and women serving in the U.S.armed forces have immigration-related legal issues that can be somewhat complex and difficult to untangle. Fortunately, LACBA's Immigration Legal Assistance Project (ILAP) has the resources and expertise to navigate the web of immigration bureaucracy and get veterans the help they need.
Click here to read about a recent case.