Rhode Island’s only law school, in partnership with a local law firm, is opening a legal clinic for disabled veterans. Students at the Roger Williams University Law School will work directly with veterans.
With a little supervision, the lawyers-in-training will help veterans who have been denied disability benefits, navigate the appeals process.
Erik Wallim, director of the veterans’ advocacy group Operation Stand Down Rhode Island, says that process can involve a lot of red tape and long wait times for a resolution.
“Regrettably, there is a backlog of literally hundreds and hundreds of thousands of cases, and it can take up to five years for an appeal to ultimately be decided at the board of veteran’s appeals,” said Wallum. “The amount of bureaucracy involved in a veteran accessing the benefits that they’ve earned is enormous, and it is critical, quite frankly, for veterans to have access to skilled legal practitioners.”
Wallum says the backlog has ballooned since veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have begun returning. There are some 90-thousand veterans living in Rhode Island.
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