CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Legal Aid of West Virginia is launching a legal service for veterans and military families.
Thanks to a major fundraising push, the Veterans' Legal Project will debut today, on Veterans Day, with two attorneys dedicated specifically to help low-income veterans with issues such as disability benefits, housing, child support and problems with consumer and medical debt, according to a news release.
Equal Justice Works/AmeriCorps awarded West Virginia Legal Aid funding for the project in June, but with a catch: Legal Aid would have to raise $70,000 in matching funds for two attorney fellowships to qualify.
Charleston lawyer Gene Bailey, chairman of the West Virginia State Bar Committee on Veterans and Military Affairs, helped spearhead the fundraising.
"As a veteran, I have been proud to contribute to the effort to bring about the Veterans' Legal Project at Legal Aid. This project will provide me and women, and their families, with much needed help as they struggle to put their lives back together after having served our country in the military," Bailey said in a prepared statement. "This is truly a project that gives back to those who have themselves given so much."
Supporters of the project includes Legal Aid West Virginia Board President Andy Nason, the West Virginia State Bar, Richard C. Sinclair and Steven Walker, the Segal law firm, and the law firms of Jackson Kelly; Pullin, Fowler, Flanagan, Brown & Poe; Spilman, Thomas & Battle; and Steptoe & Johnson.
In addition, the Governor's Contingency Fund provided sustaining funds, while Gov. Joe Manchin provided $35,000, the match amount for one project attorney, according to the release.
The two attorneys staffed to the project will be based in Legal Aid's Clarksburg and Martinsburg offices, near Veterans' Centers. Patrick Brooks, a 2010 graduate of West Virginia University's College of Law, will handle the duties in Clarksburg, while Jordan Ballard, who graduated from Fordham Law in 2009, will be based in Martinsburg.
In addition to their own legal counsel, Brooks and Ballard will help coordinate with community partners at West Virginia veterans hospitals and centers, and with the State Bar and WVU's College of Law to arrange pro bono representation.
For information about the Veterans' Legal Project, call 866-255-4370.