A Call to Duty: Washington State Veterans Bar Association
In November, the WSBA’s Call to Duty initiative celebrated its second anniversary – two years of inspiring lawyers in Washington to volunteer their time to meet the legal needs of our state’s military veterans and their families. More than 300 of the Bar’s members have taken the Call to Duty Pledge and volunteered their time to serve those who served our country.
A Spokane attorney took his pledge to the next level as a steering committee member of the recently formed the Washington State Veterans Bar Association (WSVBA), the state’s newest minority bar association. It was founded in 2014 by Bellevue attorney John Tymczyszyn and John Varga, the association’s current chair.
Mike Casey is a U.S. Army veteran who began serving in 1970 with the 2nd Infantry Division in the Korea DMZ. He also served with the 4th Infantry Division in the U.S. Five years later, he was honorably discharged as a captain. He has long been active in pro bono consultation and representation, and he strongly believes in our professional obligation to help serve those who have difficulty obtaining legal representation — a group that often includes military veterans and their families. Every person who has enlisted, been drafted, or accepted a commission has made an oath to put himself or herself in harm’s way for the benefit of society, he says, and it is our privilege as legal professionals to be able to return the favor.
Mike is especially enthusiastic about Spokane County District Court’s Veterans Court program, which provides a means to successfully rehabilitate veterans with less serious misdemeanor offenses by diverting them from the conventional criminal justice system and providing tools to help them successfully reintegrate back into society. The Spokane Veterans Forum – its motto: “No veteran left behind” – is an associated group of volunteer veterans and others (some, but not all, are attorneys). Forum members serve as mentors to men and women coming through the Veterans Court. Noting the success of this innovative program, Mike says he hopes to see it replicated in other jurisdictions around the state.
Mike is passionate about his fledgling minority bar association’s mission to serve fellow veterans in need of help, so much so that it didn’t take him long to persuade me to submit my own application to join. But WSVBA and Call to Duty aren’t the only ways Washington attorneys help veterans. There is a continuum of opportunities to serve, from occasional pro bono representation to working with WSBA’s Moderate Means program or focusing a practice on veterans’ benefits claims and employment discrimination.
A WSBA member since 1979, Mike dedicates his solo practice in Spokane to higher education law, and he is also a longtime adjunct professor at Gonzaga University School of Law.
Visit www.wsvba.org to learn more about Washington State Veterans Bar Association. Recommit, or commit for the first time today and take the 2016 WSBA Call to Duty Pledge and serve a veteran and their family!
See our previous Call to Duty posts: