The Visiting Lawyer Program provided legal advice and
information to two dozen veterans and their relatives on June 17 at
the Holyoke Soldiers Home, the most well-attended program yet.
The free program is part of the Massachusetts Bar Association's
Serving Our Veterans in the Law initiative, which includes a free
weekly call-in service for veterans struggling with state and
federal benefit appeals. Qualified veterans can call (617) 338-0572
on Mondays from 3 to 5 p.m. and be matched up with attorneys who
agree to represent their case free of charge.
The June 17 Visiting Lawyer Program, which was the third one
held in the last two years, was the best attended, as eight
volunteer attorneys answered veterans questions for three hours
about VA survivor benefits, burial, eviction, divorce, filing for
bankruptcy, educational debt, disability benefits, wills, medical
malpractice and unemployment. Each veteran, who had to register in
advance, was given 15 to 20 minutes of face-to-face time with a
"What this program and the Veterans Dial-A-Lawyer program show
is that there are legal issues that veterans - both old and young -
are facing that need to be addressed, and this allows our members
to give back to this group in a comfortable community setting,"
said MBA Director of Community and Public Services Elizabeth A.
The 24 veterans were all from Berkshire, Hampden, Hampshire and
Franklin counties. Nine of the veterans served in the Army and six
in the Air Force, while the rest served in the Navy, Marines and
The program has helped about four dozen veterans in all, and is
organized when a veterans group requests it. This was the last
program scheduled for the 2009-10 association year.
O'Neil said that the veterans service officers in the region did
a good job encouraging veterans to register for the free legal
"What was excellent about this program was that the veterans
left feeling like their issue was resolved or that they knew where
they needed to go next," O'Neil said. "The attorneys felt very good
about how they spent their afternoon, and for the (MBA) staff,
everyone felt like they gave something back."
The Visiting Lawyer Program is provided at no charge as a public
service of the MBA with the financial support of the Massachusetts
Bar Foundation, the philanthropic partner of the MBA. The MBA
acknowledges its partnership with the Department of Veterans'
Services and Shelter Legal Services.