Events

Chief Judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims to speak at Harvard Law

DAV Speaker Series Poster 2018On Thursday, November 8th, the Veterans Legal Clinic of the Legal Services Center of Harvard Law School will be hosting our 5th Annual Disabled American Veterans (DAV) Distinguished Speaker Series. The event will feature Chief Judge Robert N. Davis of the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims, a decorated Navy veteran and former law school professor who currently presides over the nation’s newest federal court. Chief Judge Davis will deliver a lecture about the critical work of the judiciary in protecting the rights of veterans and the challenges and opportunities ahead for this newest of federal courts. The lecture will include Q&A and will be followed by a reception with food. The event is cohosted by the HLS Armed Forces Association.

When: November 8 @ 4:00 pm

Where: Harvard Law School, WCC 2036 Milstein East B

We hope you will be able to join us, and please feel free to spread the word to others who might be interested in attending.

LSC, OUTVETS, & Veterans Legal Services Co-Host LGBTQ Veterans Summit

A two-day summit at Harvard Law School in Cambridge, MA on the unique issues faced by LGBTQ veterans brought together dozens of experts on LGBTQ military and veterans matters from the US and Canada. The group of legal, political, and healthcare experts examined both past and present discriminatory policies — including Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell — and the proposed U.S. transgender service ban, currently on hold in the courts.

Titled “Do Ask, Do Tell, Do Justice: Pursuing Justice for LGBTQ Military Veterans,” the two-day ideas-in-action summit was co-hosted by the Legal Services Center of Harvard Law School, OUTVETS, and Veterans Legal Services. Also spearheading the event was John R. Campbell, Former U.S. Deputy Undersecretary of Defense for the Office of Warrior Care and 2017 Harvard Advanced Leadership Initiative Fellow.

Held April 19-20, it brought together dozens of experts on LGBTQ military and veterans’ matters. Participants who shared their stories, experiences, and best practices included representatives from OutServe-SLDN, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, American Veterans for Equal Rights, the National Veterans Legal Services Program, Dartmouth Hitchcock, Johns Hopkins, and the Massachusetts LGBTQ Bar Association, as well as co-hosts OUTVETS, the Veterans Legal Clinic of the Legal Services Center of Harvard Law School, and Veterans Legal Services.

Canadian Attorneys John McKiggan and R. Douglas Elliott offered their perspectives as co-counsel on the groundbreaking matter of Satalic, et al v. Her Majesty the Queen, a successful national class action brought on behalf of current and former LGBTQ employees of the Canadian Armed Forces, Department of National Defence, and the Government of Canada. The action resulted in a record-breaking $145 million settlement and public apology from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

The summit engaged participants in a multi-disciplinary examination of legal and non-legal remedies to enforce the rights of LGBTQ veterans and to honor and fully recognize their military service and unique sacrifices. The Honorable Halee Weinstein, and Paula M. Neira, JD, MSN, RN, CEN, gave powerful keynote luncheon addresses concerning discriminatory military policies against LGBTQ servicemembers, and the transgender service ban, respectively.

Weinstein, one of the few openly gay judges in the Maryland court system, was named Associate Judge, District Court of Maryland, District 1, Baltimore City, in 2002 and has been Judge-In- Charge of Eastside District Court since 2014. She served as a military intelligence officer in the Army from 1984 to 1986 until she was discharged because of her sexual orientation. Weinstein also created and is the current presiding Judge of the Baltimore City Veterans Treatment Court.  Neira was a surface warfare officer whose service included a tour of duty in mine warfare combat during Operation Desert Storm. After the Navy, she found a path toward nursing and law. She is the first transgender Navy veteran to have her DD-214 updated by order of the Navy to reflect her correct name. Additionally, she is the co-sponsor of the USNS HARVEY MILK. She is currently the Clinical Program Director at the John Hopkins Center for Transgender Health.

The summit also dovetailed with Harvard Law School’s (HLS) bicentennial celebration and engaged alumni in the second day’s “hackathon” discussions of potential ways to address past and current discrimination against LGBTQ service members and veterans.

“It is genuinely exciting to witness so many individuals committed to advancing the rights of LGBT veterans. Symposia like the HLS Hackathon give me hope that there are still possibilities for positive change within our society,” said participant Hanna Tripp, who serves as a Military and Veteran Fellow in the Office of Congressman Joseph P. Kennedy, III.

Results from the summit’s working groups are currently being compiled into a more formal report which will be released in the next few weeks, but overall participants left the event feeling energized and hopeful, echoing Ms. Tripp’s comments.

“OUTVETS is honored to have been part of this amazing summit,” said Bryan Bishop, Commander of OUTVETS, a Boston-based LGBTQ Veterans Organization and the first ever LGBTQ organization to march in the Boston St. Patrick’s Day Parade.  “It never ceases to amaze me how, when we put our heads and hearts together, we can develop ideas that help the most vulnerable of our Veterans.  It is so important to remember that it is the one Veteran standing in front of us that is the most important.  This summit represents the beginning of an energized movement that works together to break down walls so no Veteran is left behind.”

Contact:
Anna Richardson, Veterans Legal Services
Anna@veteranslegalservices.org
Julie Rafferty, Legal Services Center of Harvard Law School
jrafferty@law.harvard.edu

VA Secretary Shulkin Discusses Needs of Disabled Veterans During Visit to Harvard Law School & Veterans Legal Clinic

For the fourth year in a row, the Veterans Legal Clinic of the Legal Services Center of Harvard Law School gathered together veterans, veterans service organizations, government officials. community providers, veterans advocates and lawyers, and law students for an event focused on the needs of disabled veterans. On Thursday, November 2, 2017, Dr. David Shulkin, the Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs, delivered the 2017 DAV Distinguished Speaker Lecture at Harvard Law School. The event was co-hosted by the Veterans Legal Clinic and Harvard Law School’s Armed Forced Association.

Alan Bowers, former National Commander of DAV, introducing VA Secretary Shulkin at HLS

Introductory remarks were given by former National Commander of DAV, Alan Bowers, a disabled combat veteran of the Vietnam War. Mr. Bowers described the community’s shared goal to care for veterans who are injured or ill as a result of their military service. “May the work of Harvard Law, the DAV, and the VA keep the promises that we make to the men and women who enlist in our armed forces of the United States of America, past and present. Keep the promise.”

Secretary Shulkin spoke about the challenges facing the VA, the VA’s efforts to serve the current needs of veterans, and his approach to leading the second largest federal agency.  Among other topics, he discussed veteran suicide, the needs of veterans with less-than-honorable discharges, innovations in the delivery of healthcare for veterans, and benefits appeal system reform. Speaking about the 2014 VA healthcare waitlist crisis, Shulkin said, “Our success is the trust of the veterans we serve and we clearly lost that trust.” Describing his approach when he took over as Secretary, he explained, “The only way I know how to go about regaining that trust is by being open and transparent about problems and as you’re fixing problems letting people know.”

VA Secretary Shulkin Speaking at HLS

Shulkin also described the VA’s comprehensive definition of health—the Whole Health System—which informs how VA seeks to provide holistic services, including peer support, transportation, homelessness services, and even connections to legal services. “What other health system thinks that it is important to have an involvement with the courts and to provide legal assistance? … Making sure that we can address the full well-being of a veteran is critical.”

(l-r) Anne Stark, HLS ’18, former Clinic student; Joshua Mathew, HLS ’19, current Clinic student and Armed Forces Association Co-President; and VA Secretary Shulkin meeting at the Legal Services Center.

After his lecture, Secretary Shulkin visited the Veterans Legal Clinic at the Legal Services Center of Harvard Law School, located in Jamaica Plain.  Secretary Shulkin toured the Center and met with current and former Clinic students and staff to hear about the legal assistance they provide to low-income and disabled veterans and the most pressing legal issues faced by the veterans community.

Supported by a generous grant from the DAV Charitable Service Trust, the DAV Distinguished Lecture Series provides an annual forum at the world’s most renowned university and law school, public servants, and thought leaders to speak on issues of importance to the nation’s veterans. The series recognizes leading figures in the veterans’ community, raises awareness about the needs of veterans, sparks discussion about the public policies that most impact veterans, particularly those with service-connected disabilities, and serves as a call to action for veterans and non-veterans alike to help ensure the nation honors its commitments to those who have served.

For more coverage of Secretary Shulkin and his visit to HLS, please visit:

https://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2017/11/va-secretary-says-vets-health-top-priority/

https://today.law.harvard.edu/shulkin-seeks-increase-service-accountability-veterans-affairs/

VA Secretary to speak at Harvard Law School on Nov. 2nd

Dr. David Shulkin, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, will deliver the 2017 Disabled American Veterans (DAV) Distinguished Lecture at Harvard Law School next month. This is the fourth annual event in the DAV Distinguished Speaker Series. The Speaker Series provides a forum for national leaders to address the critical issues facing our nation’s disabled veterans and to engage in conversation with the local community. The series is co-hosted by the Veterans Legal Clinic at the Legal Services Center of Harvard Law School and the Harvard Law School Armed Forces Association.

The event will be held on Thursday, November 2nd, 2017, at 12pm, in Milstein East B on the second floor of Wasserstein Hall on the Harvard Law School campus. The street address for Wasserstein Hall is 1585 Massachusetts Avenue in Cambridge. The event is open to the public.

 

LSC Hosts the DAV Distinguished Speaker Series on Veterans Treatment Courts

Judge Robert RussellOn November 9th, the Legal Services Center of Harvard Law School will host the third annual Disabled American Veterans (DAV) Distinguished Speakers Series featuring Judge Robert Russell, founder of the nation’s first Veterans Treatment Court. Judge Russell’s lecture begins at 12pm in Ames Courtroom, in which he will reflect on his founding of the Court in Buffalo, NY, and the future of the Veterans Treatment Court movement across the nation. The event will commence with opening remarks by our honored guest, retired Executive Director of DAV National Services and Legislation, David Gorman and with brief introductions by Daniel Nagin, the Faculty Director of LSC and the Veterans Legal Clinic and Vice Dean for Experiential and Clinical Education. A boxed lunch will be served at this time, for those who register here.

Following the lecture, Judge Russell will join a discussion panel alongside our three other distinguished guests:  Judge Eleanor Sinnott (Boston Municipal Court), Judge Mary Hogan Sullivan (Dedham District Court), and Major Evan Seamone (USAR, Professor at Mississippi College School of Law) to discuss the challenges and opportunities of veterans treatment  courts going forward.  The panel discussion will be moderated by Betsy Gwin, Clinical Instructor and DAV Charitable Service Trust Fellow, of LSC’s Veterans Legal Clinic.

For more information and to register, please visit https://davspeakerseries2016.eventbrite.com

dav-external-version

Fourth Annual People’s Law School Community Legal Education Event on April 16th

The Legal Services Center of Harvard Law School presents

The People’s Law School: Community Legal Education Workshops
Saturday, April 16th, 2016 from 1:00pm – 5:00pm

Peoples Law School at LSC

The People’s Law School is intended to educate and empower community members around every-day legal issues. You are welcome to attend up to three workshops.  Workshops include a presentation and question and answer segment. Legal topics that will be covered include:

  • Disability Law
  • Housing Law
  • Family Law
  • Consumer Law
  • Veterans Law
  • Employment Law
  • Tax Law

For a detailed schedule of workshops, please click here: 2016 Peoples Law School Schedule.

This is a Free Event Open to the Public, Registration Not Required – For More Information call 617-522-3003 or email peopleslawschool@law.harvard.edu .

Clinic students present legal workshops for veterans

LSC clinic student, Carys Johnson, presents to veterans about estate planning

LSC clinic student, Carys Johnson, presents to veterans about estate planning

On Monday, November 9, 2015, the Legal Services Center opened its doors to veterans from our community to serve dinner and provide a series of legal workshops on a range of topics relevant to veterans.  Twelve Harvard Law students from the Veterans Law and Disability Benefits Clinic presented legal information and tips to attendees about estate planning, Ch. 115 state veterans benefits, VA benefits, and Social Security benefits.  Approximately 30 local veterans and family members attended the event.

Rebecca Rattner, a second-year student in the clinic, worked with her fellow students to present about benefits available to veterans at the state level.

“I thought it was a really useful activity to engage the community and provide them with information about their rights and practical suggestions for how to advocate for themselves,”

Ms. Rattner said.

Staff from Boston and Bedford VA healthcare facilities helped to coordinate the event.

Peoples Law School at LSCThe event was part of a series of community legal education events known as the Peoples Law School, through which LSC staff and students periodically present legal workshops to community members.  The next Peoples Law School event will be held in Spring 2016.  For more details, you can contact us by email.

 

Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus Delivers 2015 DAV Lecture

 

U.S. Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus HLS '75

U.S. Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus
HLS ’75

On Thursday, October 22, 2015, U.S. Secretary of the Navy, Ray Mabus, delivered the 2015 Disabled American Veterans (DAV) Distinguished Lecture at Harvard Law School. The event was cohosted by the Veterans Legal Clinic at the Legal Services Center of Harvard Law School and Harvard Law School’s Armed Forces Association.

Secretary Mabus highlighted our duty to care for servicemembers and veterans and to ensure that they receive the recognition and benefits that they so richly deserve. In particular, he noted that because many more of those wounded in action are surviving now than in the past, “They are going to need more rehab, more things, more systems, more help.” The Secretary praised DAV, the New England Center for Homeless Veterans, the Veterans Legal Clinic, and other veterans organizations for their work toward guaranteeing fairness and equity for all those who have served. The Secretary closed his speech by reciting the famous quote that those who serve their country “gave us their tomorrows, so we could have our todays,” to which he added that, for veterans, “we owe them their todays.”

Secretary Mabus’ speech also addressed a wide array of topics relating to servicemembers and veterans. The topics ranged from discharge upgrades for those separated under the now-repealed Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy to expanding opportunities for women in the Navy and Marine Corps. He repeatedly talked about bridging the transition from servicemember to veteran. He acknowledged that the process of reintegration into civilian life is not always smooth and discussed his Department’s policies and initiatives that seek to ease that transition. Following his remarks, Secretary Mabus answered a variety of questions from the audience, which included many active duty servicemembers, veterans, community leaders, students, and others.

2015 DAV Speaker Series Announcement

The Secretary was introduced by Martha Minow, Morgan and Helen Chu Dean and Professor of Law at Harvard Law School. Dean Minow praised the Secretary, who is a graduate of Harvard Law School, for his remarkable accomplishments and his long career of public service.Secretary Mabus answered a variety of questions from the audience, which included many active duty servicemembers, veterans, community leaders, students, and others.

Commenting after the speech, Daniel Nagin, Director of the Legal Services Center, stated, “Secretary Mabus is an extraordinary public servant and champion of our servicemembers and veterans. We are honored to host him as the 2015 DAV Distinguished Lecturer at the Law School, and deeply grateful to DAV for its sponsorship of this important speaker series.  Secretary Mabus’ powerful message about the duty we owe disabled veterans is one we must collectively heed.”

Secretary Mabus is the 75th United States Secretary of the Navy and leads America’s Navy and Marine Corps.  As Secretary of the Navy, he is responsible for conducting the affairs of the Department of the Navy, including recruiting, organizing, equipping, training and mobilizing. Secretary Mabus is responsible for an annual budget in excess of $170 billion and leadership of almost 900,000 people.  Before his appointment, he held a variety of leadership positions. From 1988 to 1992, he served as Governor of Mississippi, the youngest elected to that office in more than 150 years.  He was Ambassador to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia from 1994 to 1996 and later was Chairman and CEO of a manufacturing company.  Secretary Mabus is a native of Ackerman, Mississippi, and received a Bachelor’s Degree, summa cum laude, from the University of Mississippi, a Master’s Degree from Johns Hopkins University, and a Law Degree, magna cum laude, from Harvard Law School. After Johns Hopkins, Secretary Mabus served in the Navy as an officer aboard the cruiser USS Little Rock.

Supported by a generous grant from the Disabled America Veterans (DAV) Charitable Service Trust, the DAV Distinguished Lecture Series provides an annual forum at the world’s most renowned university and law school for public servants and thought leaders to speak on issues of importance to the nation’s veterans. The series recognizes leading figures in the veterans’ community, raises awareness about the needs of veterans, sparks discussion about the public policies that most impact veterans, particularly those with service-connected disabilities, and serves as a call to action for veterans and non-veterans alike to help ensure the nation honors its commitments to those who have served.  The inaugural DAV Distinguished Lecture was delivered in 2014 by U.S. Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert McDonald.

Further coverage of the event was published by the Harvard Crimson and Harvard Law Today.

 

LSC Volunteers at Stand Down Event for Veterans

On Friday, August 28, 2015, attorneys and volunteers from the Legal Services Center participated in Massachusetts Stand Down 2015 and provided free legal assistance to scores of homeless and at-risk veterans.

Stand Down, organized by the New England Center for Homeless Vets, is a day-long event that provides an opportunity for veterans who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless to connect with service providers. In addition to legal assistance, services included housing and job assistance, clothing provision, medical and dental care, haircuts, and free meals. The event was held in tents set up by the Massachusetts National Guard in the parking lot of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 103 in Dorchester.

“I came away with an overriding sense of gratitude that we were given the chance to meet directly with veterans in need and provide immediate assistance,” said Julie McCormack, Director of the Disability Litigation & Benefits Advocacy Project at LSC. “Some veterans came to the tent in real crisis, and Stand Down created an opportunity for us to be there in the right place at the right time.”

From L-R: Julie McCormack, Robert Proctor, Chris Melendez, Kristin Antolini, Tammy Kolz Griffin, Dana Montalto, Maureen McDonagh, Julia Devanthery, Roger Bertling, Betsy Gwin, Keith Fogg, Dehlia Umunna, Nnena Odim, and Daniel Nagin. (Not pictured: Lisa Bernt)

From L-R: Julie McCormack, Robert Proctor, Chris Melendez, Kristin Antolini, Tammy Kolz Griffin, Dana Montalto, Maureen McDonagh, Julia Devanthery, Roger Bertling, Betsy Gwin, Keith Fogg, Dehlia Umunna, Nnena Odim, and Daniel Nagin. (Not pictured: Lisa Bernt)

LSC staffed the legal assistance tent for half the day, providing pro bono legal consultations to nearly 50 veterans. Ten attorneys from across LSC’s clinics and practice areas participated, advising veterans in the areas of VA and disability benefits, SNAP and other public benefits, tax controversies, housing law, family law, estate planning, and consumer law. LSC also recruited volunteer attorneys from the Fair Employment Project, the Northeast Justice Center, and Harvard’s Criminal Justice Institute to provide advice on employment law, family law, and criminal law matters.

Volunteering at Stand Down is just one example of outreach by LSC to meet the legal needs of our community. LSC also sponsors the People’s Law School, where attorneys and law students provide free legal education to community members. The next People’s Law School event will be held in November 2015 and will focus on the needs of veterans.