On August 22, 2014, the Legal Services Center participated in Massachusetts Stand Down 2014—the Commonwealth’s largest one-day event for homeless and at-risk veterans to connect with service providers. The event was held in the parking lot of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 103 in Dorchester and attracted over 700 veterans in need of assistance. A vast array of service providers set up in barracks-style tents—erected by the Massachusetts National Guard—to meet with veterans during this one-day event. Available services included health screenings, clothing, employment counseling, housing assistance, and information about benefits available to veterans. Veterans also received hot meals during the event.
LSC staffed the legal assistance tent for half of the day and provided pro bono legal consultations to over 50 homeless or at-risk veterans. Several of the legal consultations have since led to full representation cases. A total of eight LSC attorneys and three student volunteers from across LSC’s clinics and practice areas participated in the event, advising veterans in the areas of VA and disability benefits, financial and healthcare planning, housing law, family law, and consumer law. Additionally, LSC also recruited volunteer attorneys from the Fair Employment Project, the Massachusetts Committee for Public Counsel Services, and Harvard’s Criminal Justice Institute to provide advice on employment law and criminal law matters.
According to Daniel Nagin, Faculty Director of the Legal Services Center, “Stand Down is a powerful model for ensuring homeless and at-risk veterans receive needed resources. Legal assistance is just one area of need—but it is an important area as we work with others to remove barriers that prevent low-income veterans from achieving independence, stability, and dignity.”