A new study from the Department of Veterans Affairs reports that five of homeless veterans’ top 10 unmet needs actually require help from a lawyer to solve. While the survey found that many veterans are able to secure food, medical services, and substance-abuse treatment, veterans reported needing legal assistance to fight evictions, upgrade a military discharge status, or restore a driver’s license. In an op-Ed for The Washington Post, our co-director Ellen Lawton and Voices for Civil Justice’s Martha Bergmark share the stories of several veterans who have been stably housed because these needs were met through partnerships between civil legal aid, the VA and healthcare organizations. The piece also highlights how we can help more veterans.
By Martha Bergmark and Ellen Lawton
“David Garrett returned home from war to find he had no home. A disabled veteran from Maine who had served in Iraq and Afghanistan, Garrett soon fell into homelessness. After almost a year of camping out, he found an apartment he could afford by negotiating a deal in which he paid lower rent in exchange for paying four months in advance. When his landlord sold the building, the new owner said he found no evidence of Garrett’s prepaid rent and tried to evict him. Facing homelessness once more, Garrett needed a housing solution. But to get one, he urgently needed something else: a lawyer.”