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February 22, 2016

2

Answering the Call to Serve: Veterans Helping Veterans

by contributor
Soldier in uniform shaking hands with woman attorney
Claiming veterans’ benefits requires navigating a complex and byzantine system. One Washington attorney knows this system all too well.

Soldier in uniform shaking hands with woman attorneyWhen trying to claim veterans’ benefits, former service members face a complex and byzantine system. Unfortunately, this is a battle that many veterans have to face alone.

Lauren Exnicios knows this system all too well. Lauren is herself a disabled veteran, as well as an attorney, and was inspired to help other veterans by the difficult and confusing veterans’ benefit process. She thought that if the process was confusing for a lawyer, it must be extremely difficult for a layperson. Through the King County Bar Association, Lauren heard about the Veterans Pro Bono Consortium, which hosts training events throughout the country. Lauren attended a training sponsored by Davis Wright Tremaine and was assigned an appeal before the U.S. Court of Appeals for veterans claims six weeks later.

Federal appellate work is entirely different from what Lauren does on a day-to-day basis as director of regulatory compliance for the University of Washington School of Medicine. But the consortium provided a mentor and resources to help her through the process. The time commitment was not significant on a day-to-day basis, though there were occasional flurries of activity when a brief was due or an argument had to be presented. Lauren was able to achieve a positive outcome for her client and was encouraged to continue with helping veterans. She plans on taking on other cases in the future because the work is worthwhile and fulfilling.

Lauren encourages lawyers looking to get involved to find a mentor and take advantage of the resources provided by groups like the Veterans Pro Bono Consortium. There is a wide variety of ways that attorneys can provide help to veterans. If an attorney isn’t able to take on the responsibility or time commitment of a veterans’ benefit claim case, they can assist at a veterans’ clinic or other one-day event and still make a difference.

Interested in helping veterans with benefits? Visit the Veterans Pro Bono Consortium for more information.

Take the 2016 WSBA Call to Duty Pledge and serve a veteran and their family! To learn more, visit our Web page.

See our previous Call to Duty posts:

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