More Help for Veterans

I have a new gig.  I have now been appointed Co-Chair, Special Committee on Veterans’ Legal Services of the New York State Bar Association (NYSBA).  Up until now, I have held a similar post in my county bar association.  As they say on The Sopranos, I got a bump.

I still have my day job.  This is public service.  As some of you may know, this is my cause.

The incoming president of the NYSBA, Vincent Doyle III, consulted with me several months ago indicating that he wanted to make veterans’ issues one of the main initiatives of his presidency.  I applauded Vince for this impulse.  I indicated that I would help in any way I could.

Much to my surprise, Vince later contacted me to inform that he was creating this special committee, and that he wanted me to serve as co-chair.  I could not refuse. 

Much to my delight, Vince Doyle has named another co-chair.  She is awesome.  Karen Hennigan is an Assistant U.S. Attorney in Brooklyn.  She is a Major in the U.S. Air Force reserves.  She is a veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan.  At present, she is in Kazakhstan at the request of the F.B.I. to instruct the U.S. State Department on prevention of crimes involving currency fraud.

NYSBA President-Elect, Vincent Doyle III

Karen is James Bond.  Obviously, I’m happy to be working with Karen.

Together with Vince and Karen, we have come up with a three-pronged attack for advancing veterans’ issues in the State of New York.  We have created three subcommittees addressing:

  • Veterans’ Treatment Court — Based upon the successful model of Buffalo Veterans’ Treatment Court, this subcommittee will seek the most efficient means of encouraging and proliferating the growth of these courts throughout the Empire State.
  • Veterans’ Legal Services — During my tenure as Chair of the Vets’ Committee for the Bar Association of Erie County, I was most frustrated when I received calls from vets or their family members seeking referrals for help with legal problems.  I was not always able to connect them with an attorney trained and willing to meet their needs.  Some of these people sought help on a pro bono basis.  But many were willing to pay fees associated with quality legal care.  At my new post, I want to work to ensure that veterans from Montauk to Niagara receive referrals to qualified legal professionals who are able to properly assist them.
  • Veterans’ Legal Training — Lawyers need special training with regard to veterans’ legal issues.  I want to put in place proper methodology for training these lawyers and others who want to learn to assist vets and their families in this manner.  My committee will put on seminars (called “CLEs” in the biz), and will assist others who also want to train lawyers to meet the needs of this special community.

We held our first meeting of this committee on Monday in Manhattan.  There were video link-ups to Albany, Buffalo and Syracuse.  Several more attorneys joined us via teleconference.  In all, we had about 20 committee members linked in.  We anticipate that the size of the committee will grow over time.

The committee membership is varied: judges; practitioners; academics; civil servants; and attorneys for not-for-profit organizations.  Some have a military background.  All are willing to volunteer their time for this fantastic cause.

In terms of rock stars, two of the seven judges from New York’s highest court, The Court of Appeals, are sitting on the committee.  How cool is that?

One of the committee’s immediate goals is to provide a report to the NYSBA.  We anticipate that it will contain recommended changes to legislation, means to assist in the creation of new Veterans’ Court, better lawyer referral methods.  We will also recommend that this special committee be made into a permanent, standing committee.  For, we anticipate that the number and needs of veterans will only grow over time.

I am profoundly grateful for this opportunity to serve veterans, service-members and their families.

— The Major

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2 responses to this post.

  1. Just great, Mike, and good luck with this.

    I’m proud to be your neighbor.

    Reply

  2. Do you do this probono? So cool, uncle Michael!

    Reply

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