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Real Help For Veterans Day

November 10, 2010

CHARLESTON, W. Va. - Just in time for Veterans Day, Legal Aid of West Virginia is rolling out a new program specifically for vulnerable vets. Jordan Ballard is one of two new Equal Justice Works/AmeriCorps fellows in the state. He'll be providing free legal help for veterans who might have serious problems and no other place to turn, and describes the types of cases the lawyers expect to see.

"Housing, foreclosure issues, VA, veterans or other government benefits issues, consumer debt. Family law, like custody issues, or something as simple as figuring out how to get their licenses reinstated."

Ballard is based in Martinsburg; another attorney is in Clarksburg. Legal aid raised $75,000 for a matching grant to hire the attorneys. Ballard says they want to focus on helping vets who otherwise might not get access to a lawyer.

West Virginia has the highest percentage of veterans in the country, and Ballard says some can find themselves in serious situations, vulnerable to homelessness or in legal trouble, because it can be hard to return to civilian life after a difficult deployment.

"VA has an extensive, impressive array of services and support mechanisms to help that reentry process. But the fact remains that it can be a very tough transition."

He says it can be vital to call on someone who understands the system.

"You could be a veteran and have a claim going through the VA for a disability, and that may or may not have some bearing on a similar claim for Social Security."

To get help, vets can call toll-free, 866-255-4370, during office hours.

Dan Heyman, Public News Service - WV