Legislation recently introduced into the United States Congress by Representative Joyce Beatty (D-OH) would authorize the VA to enter into partnerships with both public and private organizations to provide legal services to homeless veterans and veterans at risk of homelessness. The bill is called the Homeless Veterans Legal Services Act.
Under this law, the VA would be permitted to fund a portion of the cost for certain legal services of these veterans. As currently written, the bill specifically states that such services could be related to housing, family law, public benefits, criminal defense, or any other services the VA Secretary deems appropriate.
The bill has the potential to form a powerful new collaboration between the legal community and the VA. Public interest legal organizations and law firms would be able to do more to help struggling veterans with their most pressing legal issues. Ultimately, the bill could help prevent veteran homelessness.
The American Bar Association (ABA) has applauded the effort. In a letter of thanks written to Representative Beatty, ABA President Linda Klein stated:
It will take both the VA and the legal community working together in an even more concerted way to meet the needs of veterans if we are to move closer to ending the scourge of veteran homelessness. Your bill would provide a powerful tool to make this collaboration real.
The bill is currently being considered by the House Committee on Veterans Affairs. For more information about this issue or other legal issues related to veterans, contact us.