This page provides information to team members and administrators in health care settings that treat veterans about how medical-legal partnerships (MLPs) contribute to your mission to serve and honor United States’ Veterans. It also provides resources for developing a partnership in a veteran health care setting. We recommend that anyone who is interested in learning more or starting a partnership download the MLP Toolkit, attend the annual MLP Summit and sign-up for our bi-weekly newsletter. And be sure to connect with us through upcoming webinars and events.
How Civil Legal Problems Affect Veteran Health and Homelessness
Income, housing, education, employment, discharge status, and personal safety all play a significant role in the health of veterans. They often experience legal barriers to safe housing, benefits or employment that cause ripple effects on their health. Click here to view a chart of exactly how addressing legal problems can improve health and reduce health care utilization. Legal problems play an even more acute role in veteran health among the nearly 50,000 servicemen and women who are homeless. Each year, the VA surveys Vvterans who are homeless, VA staff and community-based partners about the biggest needs to end homelessness. The 2015 CHALENG survey results showed that five of the top 10 unmet needs for male and female homeless veterans require legal assistance. They are:
- Legal assistance for prevention of eviction and foreclosure;
- Legal assistance to help restore a driver’s license;
- Legal assistance for child support issues;
- Legal assistance for outstanding warrants and fines; and
- Discharge upgrade.
While the same survey reports that VA is good at meeting the medical needs associated with homelessness, there is a clear gap in being able to meet the social and legal factors that contribute to homelessness and poor health. That is where medical-legal partnership can help.
How Medical-Legal Partnership Helps Veteran Health Settings Meet Their Mission
Medical-legal partnerships strengthen a healthcare organization by building civil legal aid services into the organization’s policy, culture, and delivery of health services. This approach to care helps veteran health care settings meet their mission by:
- Engaging veterans in their health care. MLP intervention reduces barriers to care and empowers veterans with the legal and social supports to improve their wellbeing. In the video below, Dr. Rishi Manchanda and the team at the MLP clinic at the VA West Los Angeles Medical Center share how veterans find housing, mental health care and help with benefits and legal problems under one roof.
- Helping VA health care practitioners work at the top of their licensure. Health care practitioners are able to focus their efforts on a patient’s health needs rather than social or legal issues, like poverty and homelessness, that would otherwise inhibit the delivery of health care.
- Enabling delivery of high-quality care. Medical-legal partnerships develop social determinants of health screening questions and toolkits to help healthcare team members manage the range of problems that vulnerable patients experience outside the four walls of the clinic – from safe housing to access to VA benefits.
Resources Specifically for Veteran Health Care Settings