Celebrating and Serving Women Veterans
Women represent the fastest growing population in the U.S. military as well as in the veteran community. Last year, women represented about 18% of the overall active duty force, up from 9% in 1980, and just 1% in 1970.
In celebration of Veterans Day 2021, Veterans Legal Services hosted a virtual panel discussion featuring a dynamic group of women veterans and women veterans services providers. Moderated by VLS board member and Air Force veteran Alexandra Trobe, Esq., the discussion focused on the unique needs of women veterans as well as the importance of building inclusive communities for women veterans.
Susan McDonough, director of Women Veterans at the Massachusetts Department of Veterans Services, an Army veteran, and commander of the Martin F. McDonough American Legion Post 368 in South Boston;
Tara Dunn, Esq., associate attorney at Todd & Weld, LLP, and an Air Force veteran; and
Tara Galovski, Ph.D., director of the Women’s Health Sciences Division of the National Center for PTSD at the VA Boston Healthcare System, and co-founder of the Women Veterans Network (WoVen)
"We see that women veterans move further and further away from their veteran identities over time...and that's not a good thing. But it's great that the numbers (of women veterans) are growing because the women are going to find themselves."
— Tara Galovski, Ph.D.,
co-founder of WoVen
Sealing & Expunging Criminal Records
One in three Americans has a criminal record and therefore faces barriers to health, housing, employment, higher education, and financial stability. Employment is the largest predictor of reduced recidivism. Challenges related to having a criminal record disproportionately affect people of color: in the U.S., Black men are incarcerated five times as much as White men.
In honor of Veterans Day 2022, VLS and volunteer attorney Crispin Birnbaum hosted a webinar to train staff with direct veteran care duties to become more knowledgeable and confident in speaking with veterans about having a criminal record (CORI). Attorney Birnbaum provided participants with an overview of the criminal record sealing and expungement process. Participants learned actionable information to answer veterans' frequently asked CORI questions. Participants were also enabled to identify when and where to refer veterans to take the self-empowerment step of addressing their CORI issues by leveraging free and available legal services in their communities.
Closing the Civil Justice Gap
The "justice gap," commonly defined as the difference between the civil legal needs of low-income individuals and the resources available to meet those needs, is a significant and persistent problem that affects many millions of Americans each year. According to the Legal Services Corporation, 98% of tenants in eviction cases and 95% of parents in child support cases face the legal system without any legal representation.
VLS co-Executive Director and Chief Counsel Anna Richardson and Harvard Law School Professor Martha Minow discuss "Civil Justice for All," a report produced by the American Academy of Arts & Sciences. With a topical focus on Veterans, Housing, Families, and Health, the report issued a wide array of recommendations for closing the justice gap, including the resources necessary to make it happen.
Veterans and Legal Aid Reports
How to Access VA Health Care If You Have a Less-Than-Honorable Discharge
A Guide for Veterans and Their Dependents
Veterans Legal Services and the Veterans Legal Clinic, Legal Services Center at Harvard University, Fall 2021
Veterans Represent 8% of U.S. Homeless Population
MA veteran homelessness declines, but still among the highest in the nation
U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, March 2021
COVID and the Impact on MA Veterans
Pandemic has affected veterans in unprecedented ways
Center for a New American Security, December 2020
Veteran Suicide Rate Remains High
17.6 veterans committed suicide each day in 2018
U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, November 2020
Legal Aid is an Essential Service
Greater funding needed in Massachusetts for civil justice
Massachusetts Legal Assistance Corporation, September 2020
Outreach, Trauma and Counseling for MA Vets
Resources available for Bay State veterans
MA Secretary of the State