Vol. 39 No. 9
Javier Centonzio, a second-year student at Stetson University College of Law, is the National Project Director of the Law Student Division’s Veteran’s Advocacy Initiative.
Almost daily I talk to at least one person who regrets never having served in the military. They offer several reasons that prevented them from joining and serving, but my response is always the same. It is never too late to serve your country and there are several ways to do so without joining the military. One way to serve your country is by helping veterans obtain the benefits they deserve by participating in the Duty Bound program of the ABA’s Law Student Division.
Veterans who seek disability compensation for injuries they suffered while serving share the same frustrations as a disabled person trying to obtain benefits from the Social Security Administration. The problems that veterans face when applying for benefits are twofold: First, the system is backlogged, and second, there is a shortage of lawyers trained to properly advocate on their behalf. There is an assumption that the government provides legal services to those who sacrifice to protect Americans from harm. The reality is that the legal profession needs to step up and take an active role in providing legal services to these heroes.
The Law Student Division created the Duty Bound initiative in an effort to assist lawyers representing veterans who applied for benefits and were denied. Duty Bound is a database of law students throughout the nation who are willing to provide legal research and writing assistance to lawyers handling appeals on a pro bono basis for veterans.
If you are a lawyer who works with veterans or if you know of a lawyer or program that could use free legal research and writing services provided by Duty Bound students, please contact me. With your help, the Duty Bound program can provide legal assistance to those who fought to preserve the freedoms Americans enjoy daily.