Lawyers Give Free Help To Veterans

The American Bar Association just announced a Memorial Day initiative to assist veterans nationwide in getting the legal help they need to get their benefits, among other things. While the veterans’ benefits aid arena is largely dominated by Veteran Service Organizations, the ABA has formed a partnership with the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Veterans Affairs to assist vets, too. With more money being injected into these Pro Bono (free help) solutions, hopefully veterans will be able to benefit from the wealth of experience and knowledge attorneys can provide their quest for a fair disability claim review.

With the recent push, the ABA is asking attorneys to donate time and services to help veterans and their families maneuver the various legal issues they face. The focal points are medical care, disability benefits, reemployment rights, consumer rights, criminal issues and family law.

The Coordinating Committee on Veterans Benefits and Services serves as the entry point for attorneys wishing to assist and volunteer. It also contains a state-by-state listing of Pro Bono Resources for veterans attempting to locate these services in their area. These organizations provide free services to qualifying veterans and families of veterans needing services within the legal areas listed above. To further this end, the ABA has provided grants to enable organizations to recruit attorneys to provide vets with free legal assistance.

For those unfamiliar with ABA’s ongoing involvement in veterans’ affairs, the ABA has also teamed up with other organizations to improve the administrative procedures of the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims (CAVC). Beyond this, proposals are on the table to expand the CAVC’s jurisdiction to allow De Novo review of the VA Board of Appeals’ fact finding of a particular veteran’s claim. This is of particular importance because there are numerous examples of the Board making mistakes in gathering evidence for a claim. Once that body of evidence is “finalized”, the veteran is generally stuck with whatever “facts” the VA found for the veteran. Since almost 25% of all disability claims decisions are reached using erroneous procedures, according to a recent VA OIG report, De Novo reviews could dramatically increase the number of successful veterans’ claims.

For those veterans seeking help, please click on the “Pro Bono Resources” link above. If interested in filing a disability appeal or request for increase, start the process by filing a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request with the appropriate VA Regional Office. Reviewing your file will help you better understand what you need to know about your initial claim to file a successful appeal or increase.

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Voc Rehab Survival GuideBenjamin Krause is an award winning investigative reporter, Veterans Benefits Law attorney, and disabled veteran of the US Air Force, where he served in its Special Operations Command. He attended Northwestern University and  the University of Minnesota Law School using VA Vocational Rehabilitation. While in law school, Benjamin won his decade-long fight for full disability benefits and now helps others do the same with this website and his guide, the Voc Rehab Survival Guide for Veterans.


About the Author

Benjamin Krause
Benjamin Krause is a Veterans Benefits Attorney and journalist who investigates problems veterans face with the Dept. of Veterans Affairs. He regularly reports on veterans' benefits news and analysis on the website
  • Disgruntled Vet

    I tried to enlist the assistance of the “people in the know”, but to no avail. When doing my formal appeal to the BVA, I called one individual three(3) times, and the individual did not call me back. I tried to enlist support when writing my formal appeal, and that person did not show any interest. I was trying to put my faith in the people that VA put in position to assist me, but they wanted no part. So, therefore, what else is there to do but to do as one SGM had to do to convince the VA “that there was more than one way to skin a cat”. He got a boatload of money awarded. If everyone else did this…the VA would be defunct. VA you had better get on your toes and correct all these inept defiencies that have been done by either firing, and replacing or insuring that each and every claim that was ineffectively done, be corrected as soon as possible. Time is a wasting…money is mounting. I am now in the process of pursuing legal avenues to get the money that’s due me. You have DROs reviewed people’s claims, and they have no knowledge(medical or otherwise) and coming to conclusions that the claims filed are issues that happened before active duty???? BS…these individuals have no right to make judgements on vets that served their country.

  • MO Disgruntled

    Good Luck with that Pal!
    The VA’s exofficial policy is, DENY<DENY<DENY>>>DENY UNTIL THEY(WE) DIE!!!

  • Anthony Yates

    You are right my friend!

  • mary

    been there done that no help. The responce was we can’t fine you medical records I was told by someone who help vet. said that the people working to fine the records just say that because theres so much records its just easier to say they can’t fine it because there rolls and rolls of records. I understand its alot of work but if it was there family menber then they work hard to fine those records,,The viem vet has had a bad repore thats not to down play what help the new vet are getting know but they get alot more help and are taken at there word My husband had health problems knee replacement over weight high blood presure diabeties high closteral enlarge heart he has some mental health problems. But still no records then how can they deny you when they cant prove it didnt happen.

  • Rich


    We veterans are increasingly frustrated by the lengthy VA claims process. At a time when service to our country was unpopular, we stood in the breach defending our freedoms at great bodily risk. Now after decades of suffering in silence and shame, we are trying to get just compensation for what our service cost us and our families. We have three major complaints with the claims process.

    1st, Our claims are not processed in a timely manner. It currently takes anywhere between two and five years to complete a successful claim. In extreme cases it takes even longer while in a very few, extraordinary cases it takes less time.

    2nd, During the process, our claim is all too often denied and we’re forced to appeal the denial. We feel the VA delays and denies our claims in hopes we will die. Frequently, a veteran simply gives up but those who persevere eventually receive a deserved rating. We ask, if after many appeals the VA eventually grants a veteran the rating, why not skip the lengthy process and give us our due justice at the first attempt?

    3rd, Nobody receiving compensation for various disabilities such as hearing loss, heart disease, diabetes or PTSD can understand the VA’s math. Simply put, the percentages do not add up. According to VA math, a 60% rating for PTSD and a 30% rating for an agent orange related disease curiously adds up to a total 70% rating. Can we get a simplified model that is both credible and comprehensible?

    There are other issues with the claims process but gaining fair solutions to these will be a great help toward reducing our frustration with this process.

    Thank you.

  • Toby Douglas

    Iam a Ex-Marine,Vietnam vet, I have been out of the marines since 11 April 1972, After 42 years of suffering PTSD I finally put in a claim of service-connected PTSD and after a full year I got denied, I have been seriously disabled for over 3 years and am 100% unemployable and have 2 VA Mental Health Doctors who say that I have been diagnosed with service connected PTSD, its obvious that my life is a real mess, 4 divorces,hundreds of jobs, no friends, suicidal and extremely depressed, I isolate myself daily, I have panic attacks daily,nightmares of 3 beatings from bootcamp, no hope for my future, I have been going to PTSD,Anger management, and Core Beliefs groups for 10 years on and off, now the VA Roseburg is cutting addictions therapists so there will no longer be anger management classes, these classes have helped me alot and my future is uncertain and not a pretty scene. I hope that my story will help others who are in the same boat as I am. I look forward to hearing from others who are in need of compensation from military service. and it would be nice to make some friends too! IN GOD WE TRUST

    • Marializa

      Dear Toby Douglas,I feel very sad for what you encounter in life. Pls. do’nt lose yur hope and believing that the end of the rainbow theres a pot of gold. I stongly feel that someone out there were going to help you. God see U pls. dont lose YUr hope.Fr. now on I going to include you on my prayer.I higly admire, respect,and love all mens in uniform.I wish I can do somethings for to make U happy. God bless You Liza

    • Larry

      Toby I to am a Vietnam vet. I also had a long fight for my ratings. I have diabetes, neuropathy, PTSD and recently diagnose with the beginnings of Parkinson’s too. After over 5 years of filings I finally got my 100%…so just hang in there don’t quit. Contact your district representative and tell him/her your challenges…they should be able. Good luck brother, I’ll pray for you.

    • VeteranBuzz

      .. Dear Toby,

      …. From your note above, it appears you have a substance addiction and religion addiction! If you kick both of those evil addictions that cloud and distort your perception, you will be able to see more clearly how to fix things… otherwise, keep suffering…

  • steve

    im single father(dad) 4 great children educated, I have va comp 100% perm rating mhc ,i need a lawyer my x wife whom i loved so has kept being decietful and untruthing the courts and lawyers me, My son Ryan 18 ward of state mhc needs dad to be allowed to be there for him, mom restricing me a faithful husband father veteran soul. over my head can’t afford much. may call dr sean zelinsky to see his rec north clinic. making me a misfitt man. dont need to lose my life right? done all i know how and more. be my angel please thankyou! Stephen Zan Hodges pe1 er us army

  • Leslie Parris

    Yes you have to go when you are called-up, but they do not want to help you when you return to civillan life. That is the moto of VA Reps. DENY,DENY, DENY, DENY.I broke my leg enroute to the USS Connie at the San Francisco Airport. I was re-routed to the hospital at Treasure Island where a full length cast was placed on my leg. Now VA say my medical records from booth camp to first duty station, with the incident cannot be found. DENY, DENY, DENY, and so on until death.Today my leg is very painful I reported it to the Doctor but he has the same instructions DENY.

    • another Gyrene

      Delay Deny Until We Die
      That is the reality of VA. Nam Vets know well. Research the Agent Orange BS. Deny until most of us die, only to save Dow Chem of liability for Dioxin poisoning. Intentional abuse and intentional Denial of any issue. Gulf War Syndrome = samey samey Honcho.
      Read “War at Home” if you want to get angry. Just the facts.

  • Margee’

    I’m the spouse of 40 years to my late Nam Vet Husband. Can I get any legal help to fight my battle with the VA?

  • Ellen

    My husband is paying spousal payments to his ex.In 1988 they were divorced and she has been getting payments longer than what they were married. Last year he was award 100% in VA benefits and we would like to know how to get this stopped?He did 3 tours of Vietnam,shot 2 with 5Purple Hearts and a Silver Star.He has had 4 heart attacks and a stroke in 2009 that has left his right side just be there and is not able to walk or talk since he has aphasia. We need help for someone to sepeona the courts in Tucson Az, while we live in Holiday, Fl Thank you so much

  • denvet

    if a Denver Veteran has had the displeasure of having Dr. Franscona as a rating Doctor at Comp & Pen please google her name and you will find her blogging about Catholics and Men and why does men have power in the catholic church what you do with the information could change your outcome in your rating decision the facility knows of the blog and other issues this provider has done and does not care…

  • Patty cooper

    I am the wife of a disabled American Vet. He is service conected and considered !00%. It was a long fight to get that 100%. What I need is help with a diferent matter. I have had telephone marketer to get access to my credit card and has been chargeing a monthly fee for 19 months. I had the charges stopped but they won’t give back the 19 months of charges. I need a laywers’ advice.

  • Wallie Bradshaw

    I am getting shafted by Beneficial on a loan that I had about 10 years ago and garnishing my wages since on a 1500 loan which has been paid off numerous times, but every year they garnish my wages and the company Beneficial no longer exists. I am also being sued by a company called Noble Finance which told me I could make monthly payments and then switched telling me they are taking the money out on the first of each month. What can I do?

  • buxtor

    I am a 23yr 80% USNavy disabled Veteran who has been through a recent divorce. My case would be simple if I had the opportunity to representation. I purchased a home for my family at the time in 07′ and divorced in 12′. Decree of Dissolution states that the home was to be sold and the leftover money after the mortgage was paid in full would be split. I haven’t the money for a decent lawyer as they all want it up front for a retainer but I can’t afford it while paying child support and illegally set arrearage to the same. I can be contacted through email, chat, fB, and virtually any other means electronically and would be willing to pay a decent amount at such time as a settlement or forclosure prevention has been deliberated and awarded. All I need is a chance to resolve this and move on with my life. I want a home and to pay off mine to obtain it through legal representation. Please help a retired Navy Chief who’s in danger of losing his VA Letter because he can’t afford a lawyer!!!

  • Ron

    I have Been married 13 years, no sex for the past11 years, The Sexual problem is not mine. I finally Decided to end the marriage, but she is my payee and handles my money. I had to borrow the money to hire a lawyer. the biggest problem is how to get my money out of her grip, She Gambles and loans her family money, buys cars or whatever, goes on trips all on my benefit Money. Now she will no doubt get alimony on top of all she has stolen, is there any thing I can do to Stop all this?

  • amery shannon

    My name is Amery Shannon I am a enduring freedom Army veteran. I am 34 years old I have always been with my mother whether I was in school or away for army service,Some time in May of this year I was residing at 816 E. 44st, I went to get my mother(who is 87 years old) some food from the J&J chicken and fish restaurant located on 43rd and Indiana. While I was waiting on my order I was arrested for loitering, during the 2 day period that I was in custody a neighbor must have called the police and they informed the department of aging of the situation. They came in observed that my mother’s bed and her person were soiled, and it was reported to elder abuse I was not there to change my mother or her bed during those two days as I would normally do. Now my mothers is diagnosed with aztimers, depression and behavioral disturbance. I am my mothers only child I have no other fasmily she is all I have and I feel that my rights far as my mother is concerned are being violated, I need help I do not want my mother to become a ward of the state any help or any points of contacts that that you can provide will be greatly appreciated.

  • Mary are zi

    I have been a veteran for 40 years. I suffer form PTSD, Bi Polar and OCD. I have my disability benefits. I need help with an Estate matter. This problem is so serious . Since I am suffering from PTSD, I can’t do much about it. I let it slide for between 4-5 years. When my stepfather died. He left a will and a trust. The girls are co executors. They said they went to an attorney and was told, since I was in the Will and not the trust, I receive nothing. An other attorney told me that is a crock. They have said they will give some some money. I need help to see an Estate attorney to get a court order so I can get my money. Please help.

  • Charles

    I have estate matters and, collections matters I am a 40 disabled vet spinal injury. I have been given wrong information by banks and, Well I neeed Help

  • Beddy

    I am a veteran! I have been taking care of a S.C.I veteran for the past 18 years,
    Now I have been harassed by two va hospitals on how I should take care of this
    Veteran. As one of Doctors make comments about my life stile putting me down
    Because she drives a datsun and havIng to pay back her school loans? What,s
    That have to with the care I,ve given the S.C. I veteran for 18 years,There complaints are in the notes. Building up a case to remove him in to a care home.
    When he has his own home set up to take care of the veteran for another Ten years.

  • Waymon Swift

    I was married for 18 years. We got a divorce in the divorce she get 40% of my disability. Is there any way i can get this to stop. I get 30% now if I get a increase she still get 40% of that.

  • fube gamnje

    I was involuntarily extended (stop-lossed) in May 2005 and ended up being activated in July 2005. I deployed in September of that year and had a serious illness that resulted in me being sent from the Middle East back Stateside in September 2006. I was released as a medical holdover in February 2007, which in essence was pretty much the end of my tenure as a soldier. I applied for the RetroStopLoss benefit and should have received the maximum amount of $10,000 but received $1000, which I was told, was for a period of time mid way my deployment. In essence, they are claiming I volunteered then didn’t volunteer mid way my deployment, then volunteered again. I was informed a code was put in my DD214 that states I volunteered to deploy which is definitely not the case as I did my utmost not to deploy as I was just returning from a prior deployment. Unfortunately, the documentation I need to prove my case is not in my file at the Records Center nor that with the National Guard. I have tried to get my records corrected but was informed by the Board of Military Appeals that barring some form of evidence supporting my claim, my request cannot be honored. I am baffled as to what to do other than sue the program, contingent on that even being an option available to me.

  • Wendell S

    I was fired from a job I had for over seven years. All of my supervisors has giving me high praises. When I presented an assessment form from the VA on how I was being treated as a DAV. I was fired! Please help as I cannot afford legal counsel.

  • James M . Cox

    i need some advise , i’m divorced now , and on disabilty my ex wont sign my quit claim deed unless i agree to except alone through our credit union for 10.000 , in the divorce papers she gave up rights to the house , now i feel like she’s blackmailing me to agree , been working with citi mortage to save my house . and now the last paper i need signed is the quit claim deed , what can i do , I HAVE NEVER USED MY MIATARY BENEFITS , i keep hearing there are people that will help vets. but were are they ?

  • james m cox

    do vets really get a reply here ? feels like you get washed around the system , all the talk and tv commericals they have say to reach out to the military , even run an add during the super bowl on vets i’ve called everywere and still chasing my tail . hope you guys are for real .

  • S. Lewis

    read the Q&A BLOG.WHERE ARE THE ANSWERS????????

  • HJ Brooks

    I’m filing for divorce and we have a house under VA, who will get the house once I file?

  • Mike J.

    Presumptive Exposure ? .. 18mos. Subic Bay/San Miguel, Philippine Is. approx. 18mos. Amphibious Squad. 7, on board USS Okinawa LPH-3 (listed “exposed Ship”), Numerous GAO, World Health Org. Fordham Environmental Law, Dept. of the Air Force, Dept. of the Navy, Even “Stars and Stripes” reports to support the GAO/NSIAD reports of mishandled Hazardous/toxic materials that seeped on the ground and into the well water, and a memo from my cancer doctor that states the cancer could be caused from exposure and should be considered in my case.. I have had cancer removed twice, five heart attacks, one abdominal aneurysm repaired, an aorta arch aneurysm pending, respiratory issues, chronic fatigue, which has caused unnecessary stress to family. The VA has been kind enough to deny all claims, and has also sent mail to an incorrect address ??? Gee fine job..

    • Dennis

      Mike I may have some info for you.

    • Jim

      Hi, I am trying to locate veterans that served on the USS OKINAWA LPH3 from 1964-1968 my husband Jim was on that ship and was denied benefits. He has many health issues. Maybe we can help each other.

  • Tracy Faulkner

    I am a disabled veteran and live in Florida. My ex spouse lives in Washington state. Can I hire a Florida to help me with my divorce in Washington state.

  • Tracy Faulkner

    I meant a Florida lawyer to help me

  • Manuel Lourenco

    This WWII & Korean vet who served aboard the USS Missouri 44 45 around Feb.45 under attack going to GQ when twin 5’s fired same as I was going by throwing me against the bulkhead wall deafen me.The dream team said I have no proof of this.I have letters from some shipmates but were not helpful.I wear two hearing aids now.but I guess too many years went by.The VA here will try to help me soon.Thanks from a old vet.

  • shannon brough

    Are there any lawyers for a veteran who needs representation for wrongful termination,sexual harrassment by top supervisor,retaliation for filing complaint,union -paying member refused grievance by union,no due process.

  • price

    My father was not watched well at the VA hospice , He was over medicated and we kept telling them that . He was not watched after very well.. ,He had a bed monitor on his bed to tell when he got up at night but they did not use it any more because they said that he would unplug it. He fell going to the bathroom at night after being heavily medicated. , we asked what happened and they told us he fell at night and broke his shoulder but we could not get any more info on it. He died 8 days later and still no explanation. Now the VA is calling us to discuss what they can do or settle . I think I need a lawyer but I need some guidance I am lost. He was a WW2 vet and was 87 years old.

  • Bill Henson

    My name is William HENSON I am a disabled veteran with a son no family to ask for help. I previously had to file for bankruptcy, and receiveing only $1379 a month I had to file for a Loan mitigation, after it was over I had a payment of over $500 a month, because my truck was reposed, I had to try to get a car to try and work 16hrs a week. My house payment is again past due and I m scared I am going to loose my home. With a son with problems and myself and with only $1379 a month + $450 from working I can still not get caught up and now my mortgage co. Is calling me for a payment nd I don’t have $5.00 in the bank, in fact I am over drawn, is there any help to help me keep my home Phrase help BillHenson

  • Arthur Lee Pressley

    Over the years i have given moor everdence to the va in support of my claime, its on papper and i have over ten thousand records to prove my case and they still playing crazey.

  • nellie richter

    please if you can help me with imformation, please do so.
    my husband has died because he was sick for a long time months. and died. because the v.a. hospital in pittsburg pa. doctors did not look at his problems and run tests. so if there is an attorney out there that will help me fight the v.a. hpspital an do not charge anything unless we win please let me know. two many veterans go with out treatment and die. and the famileys do not have the money to fight. please get back to me.

  • aileen pascua

    I am aileen pascua a veterans daughter do i have chance to immigrate in the US?

  • matthew

    I am a veteran with financial problems. I was forced to move out of a home infected with black mold. I had to terminate contracts with certain satellite television companies which in turn started a chain reaction of events destroying my credit. All my belongings are in a storage unit in another state because of the mold house. I am 100% disabled and now my vehicle is being repo-ed. I wanted to purchase a home with my VA guarantee but bad credit prevents it. I just wish there was a way to fix it all.

  • Regina White

    I am a veteran of the US Army and I leave in Maryland. I am currently receiving VA pensions 100% and SSDI. My current situation is hard and very depression. I have a guardian who handles my funds since 2010 and I’ve only met the field rep 3 times. Last year the law firm has taking over my SSDI benefits too. I’m in the situation where I’ve only getting $600 a month from them and the only way I can get in contact with them is through email and that’s only if they decide to respond. They pay my rent and other bills but I don’t feel like all of my needs are being met. When it comes down to emergencies I have to call my father who is in California to send me money and I’m in Maryland. I’ve asked them for an accountability of my funds and the told me the weren’t my funds. I’ve asked to purchase a home and they have told me no. I go a lot of hungry days because when I receive my $300 every other week, I have to pay people back from borrowing funds and take care of my children. They feel as though $100 dollars a month is enough to take care of three growing girls 18, 16 and 13. This year for Christmas is very depressing because their sending me $100 a piece for each of my children. I know I don’t have custody of my children because I joined the military but my guardian has told me it’s not my responsibility because my daughters don’t stay with me, with them not knowing that I have my daughters at least 5 days out of the week. I need help and guidance on what to do. Why won’t they tell me how much money I have and why do they ignore me? Regina White

  • Ronald McCaffrey

    My name is Ronald Wayne McCaffrey ,U.S Army. I had a severe neck injury on June 15, 1984 during a training mission in Ft. Dix New Jersey. As of this day , December 3, 2014, The Army lost my records, sent me home on a “medical pending” and even with photos and a DD214 was told that unless I had more proof that I was really in the service, I could not be seen. In 2010 my neck finally quit working after 26 years of babying it and living with excruciating constant pain, I became totally disabled when it was discovered that my spinal cord and five vertebrae had been severely damaged to the point that I was left with total numbness on my left side of my whole body. Now, Two fusion surgeries later and four years after I finally got a claim summited due to a Air force Advocate who miraculously found ALL of the records that was burned up in a warehouse fire the same day I was sent home and piles of paperwork, Admissions and acceptance of the fact that the Injury did in fact accrue with records from 1984. The V.A. has yet to finish my claim always stating ” We are working on It ” That left Medicare and private insurance to cover the cost at a Private Hospital with a team of Private Doctors. So far the V.A. is a ” Thanks for Nothing ” Organization who in the wake of Scandal recommended getting treated at a private Hospital because the waiting list was too long. Now I Know that Thirty Years is a long time to be waiting but I am glad to hear that I am ahead of the ones that were injured after me. So too all of my Brothers and Sisters in arms and” ALTERNATE ABLED” Veterans, What ever problems and hardships you are going through Hold your head up if you can and remember this, ” WE ARE WORKING ON IT ” Thanks for reading this

  • Calvin Higdon

    I am a disabled vet living on a pension, i have been charged with possession of marijuana, it was not mine, they came into my house and searched without permission or reading me any rights what so ever, the marijuana was not mine and not in my possession, i did not know it was there. i am 63 years old and need help, i live in Adams County Indiana, I was given a court appointed attorney that has done nothing in 6 mos but try to get me to accept 3 years in prison, that would be a death sentience. i will not plead guilty to something i did not do. i have no money i need somebody to help. no where to turn

  • James G. Pay lll

    I retired from the National Guard and when I reached the age of 60 was able to receive my retirement pay and I was receiving a check from the VA. After a few months I checked with the VA about why I didn’t receive my retirement check and the VA said that I couldn’t get both checks. I can’t understand why the Department of Defense is withholding sbp when I didn’t make an allotment for one.