SIULAW Veteran’s Legal Assistance Program Clinic receives grant from the Illinois Equal Justice Foundation

August 03, 2021 , by Pete Rosenberry



CARBONDALE, Ill. — Military veterans in the region needing help with Veterans Affairs benefit appeals and discharge upgrades can continue to look to Southern Illinois University Carbondale’s School of Law for assistance.

The law school’s Veterans Legal Assistance Program Clinic recently received a $30,000 grant from the Illinois Equal Justice Foundation to continue with the Illinois Armed Forces Legal Aid Network (IL-AFLAN). Launched in late 2017, IL-AFLAN was the first statewide hotline and network of legal support services for Illinois veterans, active duty military, National Guard, reservists and their dependents.

 “The continued funding supports the program and allows us to assist them,” Martin D. Parsons, a clinical assistant professor of law, said. “There are other options but not very many. We have clients who, without us, wouldn’t have won their appeals and wouldn’t receive benefits.”

Busy over five years

The program also allows law school students the opportunity to hone their skills by working on cases in representing clients. Parsons said the clinic has handled more than 200 cases and that more than 50 law students have participated for credit hours in five years. Students participating in the clinic will typically meet with the clients and work on the cases.

“I’ve been really lucky to have some smart, hardworking students who are really passionate about helping people and helping veterans, specifically,” he said. “I like teaching them and seeing that lightbulb come on when they get it.”

Parsons noted many of the students have a connection to veterans and up to one-fourth of those students were veterans themselves.

“A common misconception is that only veterans take my clinic but that’s not necessarily true. I have a lot of non-military students who take it,” he said.

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