Veterans Task Force

Veterans Task Force Overview

Military servicemembers dedicate their lives to defending America’s people, freedoms, and way of life. Even today, they fight for peace and justice on the battlefield. Once they return home and leave active duty, they often face legal issues that create barriers to a successful transition to civilian life. Civil legal problems — from threatened evictions to other-than-honorable discharges from the military — are often the greatest obstacles to a veteran’s health, housing, stability, and productivity. In 2017, 71% of households with veterans or other military personnel reported experiencing a civil legal problem in the past year. Twenty-one percent of those households reported experiencing 6 or more legal problems in the preceding year. Yet while civil legal needs among veterans are prevalent, low-income veterans and other military personnel received inadequate or no professional legal help for 88% of their civil legal problems in 2017.

Veterans should not have to fight for access to the justice system when they return home. They should get the help they need to obtain the benefits and legal assistance they are entitled to and so richly deserve. For more than 45 years, the Legal Services Corporation (LSC) and its grantees, along with other legal aid programs, have been providing this help. It is the mission of LSC’s Veterans Task Force to further access to justice for veterans by:

  • Raising awareness of the legal issues faced by veterans;
  • Identifying ways to strengthen the relationships between legal aid providers and other veteran-serving organizations, including the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, treatment courts, and veterans advocacy organizations;
  • Highlighting model programs that provide effective, integrated services to veterans and making recommendations for replicating or expanding those programs; and
  • Recommending strategies for engaging attorneys to provide legal assistance on a pro bono basis, including for complex legal issues.

LSC is honored to have the law firm of DLA Piper provide financial and logistical support to the Veterans Task Force. Helping veterans receive the help they need and the access to justice they deserve has been a signature project of DLA Piper's pro bono program for many years, and DLA Piper looks forward to continuing work in this area.  The DLA Piper Foundation has awarded a significant grant to LSC to support the work of the Veterans Task Force. 

Richard Gruenberger and Lisa Dewey are DLA Piper's lead contacts for the task force. Both have extensive pro bono experience. 

Three DLA Piper partners, all of whom served in the armed services, will co-chair the Task Force’s three working groups. Isabelle Ord will co-chair the Legal Issues working group with Task Force member Nicole Perez, Jim Brogan will co-chair the Collaboration working group with Task Force member Lara Eilhardt and Rich Hans will co-chair the Transition to Civilian Life working group with Task Force member Jim McDonough.

 Videos

 To hear LSC Board Chair John G. Levi announce the creation of the task force during his 2019 Veteran's Day Forum remarks, click here or view the video below.  

To hear LSC Board Member Matt Keenan discuss the task force at LSC's 2019 Veteran's Day Forum, click here or the video below. 

Veterans Task Force Co-Chairs

David D. Halverson

Abigail Lawlis Kuzma
John G. Malcolm
Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Cypress International and;
Lieutenant General, US Army (Ret)
Halbrook Distinguished Chair of American Government, Taylor University
Senior Legal Fellow, Heritage Foundation


Veterans Task Force Members

John Adams*
Stakeholder,
EimerStahl LLP

Peter Beshar
Executive Vice President and General Counsel,
Marsh & McLennan Companies

Linda Blauhut                          
Deputy General Counsel
Paralyzed Veterans of America

Sean Clark       
National Director
Veterans Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs

Bishop Joseph Coffey               
Auxiliary Bishop
Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA

Hagar Dickman            
Senior Staff Attorney
Bay Area Legal Aid

Lara Eilhardt
Senior Attorney
Office of the General Counsel, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs

Antonia Fasanelli
Executive Director
Homeless Persons Representation Project

Dr. Andrea Finlay         
Research Health Scientist
Center for Innovation to Implementation, VA Palo Alto Health Care System

Nick Hasenfus*            
Attorney
Holland & Knight

Nan Heald                               
Executive Director
Pine Tree Legal Assistance

Sam Holmes*              
Senior Program Officer
Bob Woodruff Foundation

Hon. Sven Erik Holmes 
Former Vice Chairman, Legal, Risk, and Regulatory and Former Chief Legal Officer
KPMG LLP

Abdiel Joseph*
Board Member
Legal Services NYC

Dr. David Joseph          
Medical Director
Oakland Vet Center

Matt Keenan   
Partner
Shook Hardy & Bacon LLP

Jon Killoran                             
Supervising Attorney
Inner City Law Center

Samantha Kubek
Coordinating Attorney of the Veterans Initiative
LegalHealth Division 

John Kuhn       
National Director
Supportive Services for Veteran Families, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs

Margaret Kuzma          
Director of Veterans Inclusion Project
Connecticut Veterans Legal Center

James McDonough*                
Executive Director
Headstrong

Harriet Miers                           
Partner and Member
Locke Lord LLP

Stephen Moss*
Partner
Holland & Knight LLP

Patrick Murphy*          
Chairman,
WorkMerk

Dan Nagin       
Clinical Professor of Law, Vice Dean for Experiential and Clinical Education and Faculty Director
Wilmer Hale Legal Services Center and Harvard Law Veterans Law Clinic

Martin Parsons*
Clinical Assistant Professor
Southern Illinois University School of Law

Nicole Perez                            
Managing Attorney
Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles

Benjamin Pomerance
Deputy Director for Program Development
New York State Division of Veterans’ Services

Ellen Rheaume            
Supervisory Attorney
Legal Aid Chicago

Jack Rives*                              
Executive Director
American Bar Association

Judge Robert Russell                
Presiding Judge
Buffalo Veterans Treatment Court

Maureen Siedor                      
Legal Director
Swords to Plowshares

Sara Sommarstrom                  
Vetlaw Director
Minnesota Assistance Council for Veterans

Bart Stichman                          
Executive Director
National Veterans Legal Services Program

Major Stephen A. Stokes          
Judge Advocate
Idaho Army National Guard

Clyde J. “Butch” Tate II
Chief Counsel
National Association of Drug Court Professionals
 

Jennifer Trott                          
Researcher
National Center for Medical-Legal Partnership

Dr. Jack Tsai    
Research Director
National Center on Homelessness Among Veterans, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Yale University

Jill Williams
Board Member
Homeless Persons Representation Project 

Michael J. Wishnie                      
William O. Douglas Clinical Professor of Law
Yale Law School

*Veteran