Leaders of the Philadelphia Bar Association and Philadelphia Veterans Court announced a citywide program in which volunteer lawyers will provide free legal assistance to Philadelphia veterans who cannot afford or do not have access to the legal services they need.
The pro bono services will be provided as part of the Philadelphia Bar Association’s Military Assistance Program (MAP). Previously, volunteer lawyers assisted only active-duty military personnel and their families through the MAP. The new services will expand assistance to include veterans, specifically in the areas of service-related compensation, discharge status and healthcare issues. The MAP will also benefit defendants who come into contact with the criminal justice system through Philadelphia Veterans Court who are in need of such civil legal assistance.
“For these military personnel and their families, resuming a normal, everyday life isn’t easy,” said Philadelphia Bar Association chancellor John E. Savoth. “For many, it is a constant struggle. As Philadelphia lawyers, who are distinguished by our pro bono service, we have a duty – an inherited responsibility – to help ease their burden.
President Obama announced in October that 33,000 U.S. troops would also be withdrawn from Afghanistan by September of 2012, further underscoring the need for legal services for the hundreds of service men and women in the Philadelphia region who are transitioning back to everyday life,” Mr. Savoth added.
In addition to Mr. Savoth, Pennsylvania Supreme Court Chief Justice Ronald D. Castille and Justice Seamus P. McCaffery, both of whom are decorated Marine Corps veterans, spoke at the event. Justice McCaffery is the Supreme Court’s liaison to the state’s problem-solving courts program and has been a leading force in establishing Veterans Courts throughout the Commonwealth.
Lawyers who are interested in volunteering to provide pro bono services as part of the MAP can contact Charlie Klitsch, director of Public and Legal Services for the Philadelphia Bar Association, at (215) 238-6326.