Supporting VLI is our chance to stand with those who stood for us
In August of 1990, I was an E-4 Specialist in the United States Army. I was a military police officer (95 Bravo) stationed at a military base in a Northern California desert between Reno, Nevada, and Susanville, California. It was a warm summer night and my friends and I just left the chow hall. I was relaxing on my bunk talking with my roommate about heading up to Reno to hang out next time we had some time off when we heard a sound we rarely ever heard. It was a long loud whining, repeated sound. It took us a second to realize that the siren we were hearing was the one that indicated that a conflict was in progress somewhere in the world and that we had to report to the armory for further instruction.
It took us a minute to process what was going on because up until then, we had only practiced this drill. This time it was real. Operation Desert Shield was underway to build up troops and defenses in Saudi Arabia in preparation for Operation Desert Storm. Soldiers, including myself, from all of our nation’s armed forces stood up for America’s interest abroad and endeavored to expel Iraqi troops from Kuwait. Ultimately, the U.S.-led Coalition liberated Kuwait.
Soldiers stand up for us around the globe every day
Some of those conflicts cause our women and men in uniform to suffer injury and hardship. While the military may help these soldiers in need while they are enlisted, many of those who leave service are faced with very little options for help. The issues they face when they leave the service may only be made worse if they are homeless, disabled, or low-income.
These women and men stood for us, now it’s your chance to stand with those who stood for us
Veterans Legal Institute (VLI) is a military-specific public interest law firm that provides pro bono legal assistance to homeless, at-risk, and disabled veterans and active duty service members that eradicates barriers to housing, education, employment, healthcare, benefits, and fosters self-sufficiency. VLI also advocates on behalf of the veterans it serves by providing the community with education and training in an effort to increase awareness about the issues that our nation’s past and current service members face.
It takes generous donations in order for them to operate
VLI operates on a shoe-string budget. Most of the people there are volunteers and last year, its founders and top two attorneys didn’t even take a salary! VLI amazingly was able to help approximately 800 veterans with only $100,000. That’s payroll, stipends, grants, supplies, and insurance. Can you imagine not taking a salary and operating your law office with as many staff as VLI on a budget of $100,000? And still be able to help so many people?! People like John who served our country honorably and did two tours overseas only to have his landlord illegally serve him with a three-day notice to leave his apartment because John had a service dog to help with his medical condition! VLI was able to stop the eviction and keep John in his home because of the generous donations it receives.
Although VLI was able to help 800 veterans like John, they still had to turn away over 1600 inquiries for lack of funds! That is why the Orange Country Trial Lawyers Association (OCTLA) has not only chosen VLI as its charity for 2016, OCTLA has set a goal of raising $150,000 for them so that they can represent even more of our nation’s veterans in need!
We will need cash and silent auction donations to reach our goal
In order to reach our goal, we will need to collect silent auction items for our annual Top Gun Awards and Charity dinner in November. Starting now through November 12, 2016, OCTLA is having a Silent Auction Challenge! There are two ways to win! You either donate the most creative auction item or donate the most auction items (minimum of 10). Visit www.octla.org for details. All proceeds from our silent auction go to VLI.
You can also donate money directly to VLI via our website or www.vetslegal.com. Everyone who donates via either website will have their name featured at the Top Gun Awards dinner in November.
Volunteer if you cannot donate silent auction items or money
As I mentioned previously, volunteers are the lifeblood of VLI. They would also appreciate you donating just a few hours of your time to help with intake. No experience necessary. Here are some upcoming opportunities (others are on their website).
- Sept. 12, 2016, 11-1 pm − Military Mondays at Starbucks in Santa Ana (2 pro bono attorneys needed)
- Sept. 13, 2016, 9:30-12:00 pm − VA Hospital Long Beach legal clinic (4 pro bono attorneys needed)
- October 11, 2016, 9:30-12:00 pm – Military Mondays at Starbucks in Santa Ana (2 pro bono attorneys needed)
- October 17, 2016, 11-1 pm – VA Hospital Long Beach legal clinic (4 pro bono attorneys needed)
- Nov. 8, 2016, 2016, 9:30-12:00 pm – VA Hospital Long Beach legal clinic (4 pro bono attorneys needed)
- Nov. 21, 2016, 11-1 pm – Military Mondays at Starbucks in Santa Ana (2 pro bono attorneys needed)
Every little bit helps. HOOAH!
VLI is a worthy charity that is doing what it can to help our nation’s veterans in their greatest time of need. They cannot do it without you. We have endeavored to raise an unprecedented amount of money for a very worthy cause. Please find it in your heart to donate of your time and money.
Vincent D. Howard is the managing shareholder of Vincent Law, Anaheim. His practice focuses on individual cases and mass torts involving personal injury and consumer protection. His experience in these areas stems from his work at Lopez, Hodes, Restaino, Milman & Skikos, where he handled high-profile mass tort litigation and pharmaceutical injury cases against such companies as Wal-mart, Merck and Halliburton. He is a graduate of the University of Nevada-Reno and received his J.D. at Western State College of Law, where he was a Dean's Scholar.
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