SIU Law School Veterans Legal Aid Program Receives Funding


03 Aug 2021

SIU Law School Veterans Legal Aid Program Receives Funding

by Pete Rosenbery

CARBONDALE, Ill. – Area military veterans needing help with benefits calls and dump upgrades can continue to look to the University of Illinois at Southern Carbondale’s Law School help.

Law School Veterans Legal Aid Program Clinic recently received a $ 30,000 grant from the Illinois Equal Justice Foundation to continue with the Illinois Armed Forces Legal Aid Network (IL-AFLAN). Launched in late 2017, IL-AFLAN was the first statewide legal aid hotline and service network for Illinois veterans, active duty military, National Guard, reservists and their dependents.

“The ongoing funding supports the program and allows us to help them,” said Martin D. Parsons, assistant professor of clinical law. “There are other options, but not a lot. We have clients who, without us, would not have been successful and would not receive benefits.

Occupied for five years

The program also allows law students to hone their skills by working on cases by representing clients. Parsons said the clinic has handled more than 200 cases and more than 50 law students have participated in credit hours in five years. Students attending the clinic will typically meet with clients and work on cases.

“I’ve been very fortunate to have smart, hard-working students who are really passionate about helping people and helping veterans in particular,” he said. “I love teaching them and seeing that bulb light up when they get it.”

Parsons noted that many students have a connection to veterans and up to a quarter of those students were veterans themselves.

“A common misconception is that only veterans take my clinic, but that’s not necessarily true. I have a lot of non-military students who follow him, ”he said.

Provides services to veterans throughout Illinois

While the SIU’s primary coverage area is a 15-county region in southern Illinois, Parsons notes that clients also come from areas such as the Eastern Metro and Central Illinois. . In addition to handling discharge upgrades and VA benefit calls, Parsons said the clinic also handles a handful of family and consumer law cases involving veterans in conflict situations involving aid. legal of Land of Lincoln. The program is free for Veterans, National Guard and Reserve, and active duty personnel, but there are some income guidelines.

Parsons, who graduated from SIU School of Law in 2015, served four years in the United States Marine Corps and 22 years in the Illinois National Guard. The university has a long-standing commitment and history of assisting veterans, active-duty military personnel, reservists and their dependents.

“As a veteran myself, it’s being able to help my brothers and sisters in arms deal with their problems,” he said. “I understand them because I am one of them. The quirks and challenges we share.

Eligible veterans and military personnel, their spouses, and dependents who reside or are stationed in Illinois and who require assistance should contact the Network’s free legal aid hotline at 855-IL-AFLAN (855- 452-3526). The offices are open Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

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