Our veterans have been through a lot. The shock of battle, the prolonged stress of war, the emotional wounds of seeing friends and comrades-in-arms killed in the prime of their lives… We owe our veterans a great debt, and the repayment of that debt begins with understanding their situation, and ensuring that we have the resources, the means, and the resolve to get them the care they need.
Often times, the first place to start is to let people know where they can turn if they have questions. The Veterans Affairs website provides a link to the Veterans Justice Outreach Program, which itself provides lists of local resources providing legal help for veterans. This link is helpful, focusing on connecting homeless veterans with local assistance (considering how difficult it is for that demographic to travel), but many people point to a large logical flaw — homeless veterans will not usually be able to go online to find the link.
This highlights one of the biggest hurdles to overcome in the quest to provide legal advice for veterans: the fact that once a veteran falls through the cracks in the system, they’re much harder to track down. Veterans lawyers, in essence, need to be more proactive in their search for clients than many other types lawyers, even if their goal is merely to spread the word on where veterans can find help.
Homeless people, veterans or not, are more likely to find themselves entangled in the legal system than non-homeless people. Whether or not a homeless person has committed a crime is not the point being made. The point is that every citizen deserves the right to legal advice and representation in a court of law. This is one of those inalienable rights we hear so much about. To neglect to provide legal help for anyone is wrong. To neglect to provide legal help for veterans, who have sacrificed so much for their country, is reprehensible. Great references here.