Dana Montalto, Elizabeth Gwin and Evan Seamone of the Legal Services Center of Harvard Law School will be conducting a training called Representing Veterans in Discharge Upgrades: A Step-by-Step Pro Bono Training on Tuesday, May 22, 2018 from 3pm to 5:30pm. The training will be held at the Boston Bar Association located at 16 Beacon Street, Boston MA.
Many of the men and women who served in the U.S. armed forces are cut off from veterans’ services and benefits because they were given a less-than-honorable discharge. They may have served in combat or have suffered physical or mental wounds, but are nevertheless unable to access much-needed treatment and support from federal and state veterans agencies because of their discharge status. In many cases, the origin of their need for support—for example, service-related post-traumatic stress disorder or traumatic brain injury—also contributed to the conduct that led to their less-than-honorable discharges.
The training will offer a step-by-step approach to building a persuasive discharge upgrade petition, including a review of best practices for client meetings, gathering letters of support, engaging medical experts, and drafting a brief. They will also discuss how to address common challenges in discharge upgrade practice, such as tracking down government records and maintaining contact with clients who may be in crisis or dealing with other issues. Finally, the training will provide important updates about discharge upgrade law, including recommendations for how best to use the recent Kurta Memorandum to advocate for veterans discharged for mental health-related misconduct. Both attorneys with experience in discharge upgrade practice and those who are interested in getting more involved are encouraged to attend. Law students are welcome but are not eligible to take pro bono referrals from the Veterans Justice Pro Bono Partnership (VJPBP),
Attorneys who participate in the training will be eligible to join the Veterans Justice Pro Bono Partnership established in 2015 by the Veterans Legal Clinic at the Legal Services Center of Harvard Law School. Through the VJPBP, the Veterans Legal Clinic screens and refers veterans seeking discharge upgrades to private attorneys and then provides ongoing support and expert resources to those attorneys throughout the case. The generosity and efforts of VJPBP attorneys help to address the enormous gap in the provision of legal services to veterans and will provide much-needed advocacy to those who served the nation in uniform.
Immediately after the training, the BBA’s Active Duty Military & Veterans Forum will host a reception for program attendees and other members and supporters of the Boston veterans community. The reception will be an opportunity to build our community and to recognize the important work you have been doing on behalf of veterans, as well as to honor Memorial Day.