Kansas Legal Services Closes 1,000 Veterans Cases Per Year, With the Help of Partnerships
In 2016, 3,294 veterans or their families sought legal advice or representation from Kansas Legal Services (KLS). KLS ended up closing 1,000 of those cases.
These numbers are large in part because Kansas has a big military and veteran population. But what they don’t reveal is that KLS doesn’t have a dedicated veterans program. Instead, the program’s work is a product of its long-held commitment to serving veterans and the partnerships it has established.
Two of those partnerships are with Army OneSource and the Kansas National Guard. (KLS has partnered with Army OneSource for six years and the Kansas National Guard for four years.) Army OneSource is an initiative that provides comprehensive community support and behavioral health, financial, legal, and faith-based services for service members, their families, and veterans. Right now, KLS hosts free Army OneSource continuing legal education courses, which are designed to educate legal professionals about the aspects of military culture and federal laws affecting both active-duty service members and veterans. As part of its collaboration with the Kansas National Guard, KLS takes referrals and provides them with statistics each year.
Through both partnerships, KLS has been able to raise awareness of its available services for service members and veterans. At the same time, the program has a volunteer attorney program called Serving Our Troops, in which pro bono volunteers provide legal advice to veterans on an ongoing basis and assist homeless veterans through statewide Heart of America Stand Down events.
KLS is also a big proponent of statesidelegal.org—a website that provides information for service members, veterans, their families, and advocates to access benefits, find free legal help, and understand their legal issues—and recommends that legal aid organizations link to it on their websites.