The National Veterans Legal Services Program Names Hunton & Williams LLP Pro Bono Partner of the Year
100 Firm Lawyers Volunteer Legal Services to Iraq and Afghanistan War Vets
NEW YORK, Nov. 2011 /PRNewswire/ — On Veterans Day, November 11, Americans pay tribute to our nation’s veterans and the freedoms they secured against the startling reality facing the service members returning from tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, which include extraordinary mental and physical disabilities, high unemployment rates, and miles of legal paperwork and bureaucratic hurdles to obtain disability, discharge, and veteran benefits.
Since 2008, the international law firm Hunton & Williams LLP has provided pro bono legal assistance to recent veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars seeking disability benefits through a partnership with the Lawyers Serving Warriors project of the National Veterans Legal Services Program (NVLSP). In recognition of the firm’s exemplary and record-breaking pro bono contributions, NVLSP has named and recognized Hunton & Williams LLP as its Pro Bono Partner of the Year at NVLSP’s annual benefit on November 9.
“Our partnership with the National Veterans Legal Services Program highlights the essence of our firm’s dedication to pro bono work,” said Wally Martinez, managing partner of Hunton & Williams. “Our commitment to pursuing cases that help a significant yet underserved population resonates with the core values of our firm.”
With staggering joblessness numbers, enormous health care costs and the highest rate of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) among service members nationwide, Iraq- and Afghanistan-era veterans and their families are in great need of day-to-day disability, discharge, and veterans benefits. Lawyers from Hunton & Williams, through the Lawyers Serving Warriors project, represent nearly 70 veterans on multiple, multiyear claims to date. The firm has also participated in a project with NVLSP to redress injustices in military separations before the Boards for Correction of Military Records and the new Physical Disability Board of Review.
“The need for these services among Iraq- and Afghanistan-era veterans is astonishing, and increased benefits have a significant impact on the veteran and his or her family, and enable them to live a life out of poverty,” said Erin L. Barrett, a lawyer with Hunton & Williams and the director of the firm’s Veterans Pro Bono Program. “Many veterans are unable to work, and if they can, it is in a reduced capacity. Often, they are unable to navigate the complex system to obtain their rightful benefits,” noted Barrett.
Hunton & Williams currently has more than 100 volunteer lawyers working with the NVLSP’s Lawyers Serving Warriors project. Within the firm, lawyers are trained to communicate effectively with veterans and deftly manage the difficulties inherent to working with an injured veteran population.
“We are thankful to Hunton & Williams for its dedicated pro bono service, and for serving as an important partner to our organization,” said Ronald B. Abrams, joint executive director of the NVLSP. “We look forward to continuing this very necessary work with the firm to secure justice and support for our nation’s service members and veterans.”
Hunton & Williams continues to lead the way in community service in the United States and its tradition of pro bono service is well recognized. During the firm’s last two fiscal years, 100 percent of its US lawyers participated in pro bono matters. Hunton & Williams received a National Law Journal 2011 Pro Bono Award for its work for Haiti immigration relief with Catholic Charities Immigration Legal Services; the Florida Supreme Court’s 2010 Chief Justice’s Law Firm Commendation Award for the firm’s commitment to provide access to the courts for all Floridians; the 2010 Beacon of Justice Award from the National Legal Aid & Defender Association for immigration work; and the Pro Bono Institute’s 2009 Pickering Award.
- Since October 2001, approximately 1.64 million US troops have deployed to support operations in Afghanistan and Iraq.
- A September 2011 New York Times news article reported that health care and disability for Iraq and Afghanistan war vets will be at least $589 billion over the next 40 years.
- According to research conducted by RAND Health and the RAND National Security Research Division, approximately 300,000 veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars – nearly 20 percent of the returning forces – are likely to suffer from either PTSD or major depression, and these numbers continue to climb. An additional 320,000 of the returning veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan may have experienced traumatic brain injuries during deployment.
- In November 2011, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that while the national unemployment rate remains mostly unchanged at 9 percent, the jobless rate for Iraq- and Afghanistan-era veterans is 12.1 percent, up from 11.7 percent in September and higher than the average of 10.5 percent in 2010.
About The National Veterans Legal Services Program
The National Veterans Legal Services Program (NVLSP) is an independent, nonprofit veterans’ service organization that has served active duty military personnel and veterans since 1980. NVLSP strives to ensure that our nation honors its commitment to its 25 million veterans and active duty personnel by providing them the federal benefits they have earned through their service to our country. NVSLP offers training for attorneys and other advocates, connects veterans and active duty personnel with pro bono legal help, publishes the nation’s definitive guide on veterans’ benefits, and represents and litigates for veterans and their families before the VA, military discharge review agencies and federal courts.
About Hunton & Williams LLP
Hunton & Williams LLP provides legal services to corporations, financial institutions, governments and individuals, as well as to a broad array of other entities. Since our establishment more than a century ago, Hunton & Williams has grown to more than 900 lawyers serving clients in 100 countries from 19 offices around the world. While our practice has a strong industry focus on energy, financial services and life sciences, the depth and breadth of our experience extends to more than 100 separate practice areas, including bankruptcy and creditors rights, commercial litigation, corporate transactions and securities law, intellectual property, international and government relations, regulatory law, products liability, and privacy and information management. For additional information visit our website at www.hunton.com.