B-LAW-G New York: Veterans Edition
One of the skills I’ve learned as an Equal Justice Works Veterans Legal Corp Fellow is the skill of patience—a skill that is particularly in short supply in this instantaneous world. Similar to the glacial pace of litigation in the Court system, an advocate practicing before the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) must hunker down for excruciatingly long storm of denials, appeals, waiting, waiting, and more waiting. Learning how to be patient—and being honest and frank with your Veteran clients about the length of time it will take to receive a decision from VA—is crucial.
Sometimes, however, time is of the essence, and the Veteran needs immediate assistance. This is when it is important to have a team of dedicated community groups in your advocacy network—a coalition of local agencies, Veterans groups, and organizations who work together to provide a local, holistic continuum of care, outside of the VA bureaucracy. With this idea in mind, I was given the opportunity to establish the Chautauqua County Veterans Coalition. Members include Legal Assistance of Western New York, Chautauqua County Veterans Service Agency, Chautauqua Opportunities, Blue Star Mothers, Fenton History Center, Jamestown Community College, VA Homeless Prevention Project, Jamestown City Council, VFW and Legion leadership, and others. Our goal is to brainstorm and resolve the problems we see Veterans in our county face. Our Coalition connects Veterans with services they earned; supports and promotes each member’s projects in the community; and most importantly, members collaborate and share best practices for dealing with the VA.
Equal Justice Works has given me the opportunity to serve the Veterans in Chautauqua County and to foster relationships with my fellow Veteran Advocates through the Coalition. I feel confident in saying that the four Veterans Fellows across the LawNY Organization have been blessed to work with a population of people who so deeply understand the meaning of love of Country that they were willing to pay the ultimate price to protect and defend our freedom. There is no greater gift.
The Veterans fellowship project in Jamestown, New York is gaining momentum and must continue into the future to serve the Veterans who have come to depend on this service. An attorney for Veterans in Chautauqua County is a vital piece in the continuum of care in this community. It has been my greatest honor to represent Veterans in my hometown, and I look forward to fostering the relationships formed with my Coalition members in our common goal of serving of our Veterans. ~Kristy Woodfield, Esq.
LawNY’s Equal Justice Works Fellows in Washington, DC for Leadership Training—mobilizing the next generation of public interest lawyers. Standing fifth from the left is David Stern, Executive Director of Equal Justice Works.
The Chautauqua County Veterans Coalition hosted two Veterans Benefits Workshops in April at Jamestown Community College. The goal was to connect Veterans with the services and benefits they earned. Over 60 Veterans and their families attended the two events. Please check out the Chautauqua County Veterans Coalition Facebook page for more pictures from these events.