On Monday, January 16, 2017, student clinicians serving in the Veterans Advocacy Clinic (VAC) at the West Virginia University College of Law had the pleasure of travelling to Madison, WV, a small community located approximately 35 miles southwest of Charleston, to meet and exchange ideas with veterans of the Daniel Boone Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Post 5578, Madison, West Virginia.
The meeting provided the opportunity for the student clinicians to see first-hand some of the issues that West Virginia veterans have with navigating the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) benefits bureaucracy, a system through which the VAC often guides local veterans by representing them on benefits claims and appeals.
Rachel Roush, a third-year law student and member of the VAC, commented that the experience “was extraordinarily meaningful; meeting these veterans and hearing their stories, learning from them, and getting a firm sense of how we can better assist them moving forward was truly a pleasure and an excellent learning experience.”
The trip to Madison is illustrative of the type of work that the VAC has been doing all year and will continue to do in the Spring 2017 semester: meeting and engaging West Virginia veterans; soliciting their feedback about the VA and the veterans’ quality of life generally; and incorporating these lessons learned into coherent strategies for becoming better veterans advocates.
The VAC emerged from the experience as a more knowledgeable organization, better equipped to meet the legal needs of the West Virginia veterans it serves, and looks forward to future opportunities to engage with Charleston-area veterans and the local and state policymakers whose decisions impact the lives of all Mountaineer State veterans.
The Veterans Advocacy Clinic is an eight student operation supervised by three licensed attorneys that provides free legal services to West Virginia veterans, principally in the areas of VA benefits claims, military-discharge upgrades, and minor civil issues.
The Veterans Advocacy Clinic can be reached by telephone at 304-293-7249 or by email to the Clinic Director, Associate Professor Jennifer Oliva, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
A Daniel Boone VFW Post 5578, Madison, West Virginia, banner showing a founding date of February 10, 1946.
Veterans Advocacy Clinic Students (from left) James Dorsey, Alex Jonese, C.J. Reid, Kirsten Lilly and Rachel Roush, pose during a lunch graciously provided by United States Marine Corps Veteran Joe Gero (in doorway), of Madison, during the students’ visit to VFW Post 5578.
Veterans Advocacy Clinic students share a moment of laughter with a veteran of VFW Post 5578 during the students’ recent trip to Madison, West Virginia.
Veterans Advocate Alex Jonese (blue shirt) provides reassurance to a veteran of VFW Post 5578 during the Veterans Advocacy Clinic’s recent trip to Madison, West Virginia.