Let Us Give Thanks on Veterans Day
For Veterans Day last year, I volunteered at a legal advice clinic to help veterans in my hometown of Beaumont. More than 30 lawyers assisted about 100 veterans. In chatting with other volunteers, I learned that two of the lawyers – professionals I have known and respected for years – lost their fathers in Vietnam. They were volunteering to honor their fathers, who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country. As we honor all who have served this Veterans Day, let us be mindful of the many men and women, and their families, who have made great sacrifices in duty to our country.
Last year, Terry Tottenham of Austin initiated the State Bar of Texas program, Texas Lawyers for Texas Veterans, while serving as State Bar president. The primary goal of Texas Lawyers for Texas Veterans is to ensure that veterans and their families who otherwise cannot afford legal help have access to legal information and to legal representation through pro bono legal clinics and other resources. I am equally committed to Texas Lawyers for Texas Veterans and to seeing the initiative continue to grow, as it is a program that changes lives.
Many veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars are returning from
active duty to find themselves out of work, facing a divorce or child
custody battle, or having trouble affording a place to live. They may
also be facing an uphill climb in obtaining the benefits they have
earned and have nowhere else to turn. Veterans from World War II,
Korea, or Vietnam may be dealing with their own disability claims —
some with decades’ worth of paperwork — or need help with other
concerns but are on limited incomes.
Last November, to commemorate Veterans Day, 20 veterans legal advice clinics were held throughout the state. More than 600 veterans received legal assistance from nearly 300 volunteer attorneys. A similar effort on the part of local bar associations and legal aid organizations is being made in honor of this Veterans Day as well. To learn more about when clinics and events are scheduled, visit www.texasbar.com/veterans.
As with my colleagues in Beaumont, many attorneys have family members who currently serve or have served, or they may be veterans themselves. By participating in the Texas Lawyers for Texas Veterans program, they get the chance to express their gratitude to those who have defended our country. Let us all think about how we can give our thanks and assistance to those who have served our country and those who love and honor them.
Bob Black is president of the State Bar of Texas. He is managing shareholder of MehaffyWeber, a law firm with offices in Houston and Beaumont.