Helping Veterans In Need

By: A.J. Hilton Email
By: A.J. Hilton Email

Veterans may have been a little surprised to see a 27-foot RV pull up at
the Volunteers of America Lansing Office Tuesday.

The mobile home-turned law office is exactly what some veterans are hoping for.

"They try to get us back on track, you know, from our experiences, what we've been through," said Jeff Austin, a retired veteran. "I'm an injured vet myself."

An allocation of $200,000 from the state to the University of Detroit-Mercy School of Law created a freestanding veterans clinic, launching a statewide tour.

"The Veteran's Law Clinic is one of the few law school based programs, that deals with educating the students and also helping the veterans, primarily in the area of veteran's disability," said Peggy Costello, Supervising Attorney of the Clinic.

The Veteran Law Clinic is the only freestanding clinic traveling the U.S., specializing in disability compensation, and access to health care.

The response to the clinic thus far-- overwhelming.

"We were getting phone calls I would say on average of 50 a day," said Costello.

The Michigan Department of Military and Veteran Affairs reports 18,000 vets in Ingham County last year, and 914,000 in the state. Only around 7% receive disability benefits.

"A lot of veterans are homeless, which is a real problem, even just the outreach to those veterans, because they don't have the economic means to be able to pay rent," said Costello.

Which has some believing this could be just the beginning of a service much needed.

"There's probably going to be a lot of them coming," said Austin. "After the war's over... I'm sure there's a lot of them out there that's going to need help."

The mobile law office will also travel to Battle Creek, Flint and Traverse City by the end of the year.


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