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Quad State News

Veterans Day: Agencies Working to Support Those Who've Served


The 21st Century veteran is not necessarily a senior citizen, thanks to several conflicts in the last quarter-century, and the director of veterans affairs of Illinois knows that firsthand.

“Some of the biggest challenges faced are those by women veterans,” says Erica Borggren, “and the unique challenges they have in adjusting, because they don’t identify (themselves) as veterans, and don’t access the resources that are out there.” Borggren wants to improve that.

Borggren says while sexual assault in the military has been a publicized problem, the statistics are not that far off from those in the civilian world, and for the most part, women in the service consider their male colleagues “brothers for life.”

Meanwhile veterans across Illinois whose disability claims are rejected by the VA can get free legal help to file an appeal.

The help comes from the Veterans Legal Support Center & Clinic, run by the John Marshall Law School. Director Brian Clauss says the organization knows how to cut through the clutter and write a successful appeal.
"When an attorney steps in to assist a vet at that appeals process, disagreeing with the VA and their denial or their percentage of rating, the attorneys step in and they really are, to use a military term, a force multiplier for that veteran,"
Clauss says one of the problems at the VA is a backlog of cases.  He says they write the appeals to be digested by the VA as easily as possible. The clinic is staffed by six lawyers and 25 law students in Chicago, and they've trained 400 volunteer lawyers around the state. Clauss says they get about one-thousand inquiries a year, and 400 become active appeals.

More information on the Veterans Legal Support Center is available on line at www.jmls.edu/veterans or by calling 312-427-2737.