IMPACT REPORT, FY 2020-21
LETTER FROM OUR
This past year was filled with so many hardships for so many people here in Massachusetts. From COVID-19 to the enduring challenges borne from a generation of war, 2021 took a particular toll on innumerable veterans and their families.
And yet, the resilience of those in and around the veteran community was a steady source of inspiration for everyone at Veterans Legal Services. Service to others is what defines both VLS and the veterans we are honored to support each and every day. By providing free and direct civil legal assistance to economically disadvantaged veterans, VLS helps former servicemembers live the healthy, happy, and productive lives they deserve.
Since the start of the pandemic, VLS has adapted and responded to the unique civil legal needs of military veterans throughout Massachusetts. This has included eviction prevention efforts, debt management and access to benefits, removing barriers to employment, family law matters, discharge upgrade appeals, and so much more. We have continuously refined our remote services model to make it easier and safer for veterans anywhere in the Commonwealth to access the free legal assistance they need.
At the same time, VLS has also worked to safely expand its in-person physical footprint in partnership with other veterans services organizations in the state. In August 2021, VLS launched its fifth legal clinic site through a new medical-legal partnership with the Boston VA Healthcare System. This partnership was made possible in part through the generous support of the Bob Woodruff Foundation. The monthly clinic, led by VLS Staff Attorney and U.S. Army veteran Scott Pitta, is held on the campus of the Brockton VA Medical Center.
Legal aid is an essential service for vulnerable populations, and it must be part of the holistic care provided to at-risk veterans. To that end, Boston VA medical providers, social workers, and vocational rehabilitation specialists refer veterans to VLS for assistance with a host of civil legal challenges. The Boston VA Healthcare System features
specialized programs for women veterans and homeless veterans, as well as inpatient and outpatient mental health services, and this new clinic enables VLS to reach and serve them where they are.
This past summer, VLS marked its 30th anniversary through a virtual event that celebrated the organization’s past, present and future. VLS was founded in 1991 by Boston College Law School students who sought to provide free and accessible legal assistance to homeless and at-risk veterans in Boston. Three decades later, VLS remains the only legal aid organization in Massachusetts whose mission is to meet the unique civil legal needs of former servicemembers with limited financial resources.
We want to express our deepest gratitude to you — our partners, our allies, and our donors. By investing in the care and well-being of veterans this past year, you have helped VLS positively impact the lives of hundreds of former servicemembers and their families. As our team works to implement VLS’s five-year strategic plan, we are optimistic and energized to make a meaningful difference in the lives of many more veterans throughout Massachusetts. Your investment in VLS makes this work possible. We are incredibly thankful for your collective support and ongoing commitment to VLS and the Massachusetts veterans we proudly serve.
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