Veterans Programs | School of Law | SIU

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Veterans Programs

The Veterans’ Legal Assistance Program (“VLAP”) provides free legal assistance to Veterans in southern Illinois who cannot afford or do not have access to legal representation in the appeals of claims for compensation for service-connected disabilities, pension benefits, survivor benefits, and education benefits. The VLAP also assists with petitions for the upgrade of other-than-honorable discharges for military members with post-traumatic stress disorder (“PTSD”) or victims of military sexual trauma (“MST”).

WHO IS ELIGIBLE FOR LEGAL ASSISTANCE

The VLAP provides pro bono legal assistance to Veterans in southern Illinois who cannot afford or do not have access to legal representation in the appeals of claims for compensation for service-connected disabilities; and petitions for the upgrade of other-than-honorable discharges for military members with post-traumatic stress disorder (“PTSD”) or victims of military sexual trauma (“MST”).

The VLAP also provides referral services for veterans with other civil legal challenges.

TYPES OF SERVICES NOT PROVIDED

The VLAP does not assist with filing initial claims for benefits. To receive assistance with filing an initial claim for benefits, contact the Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs or a Veterans Service Organization, such as the American Legion, AMVETS, or the VFW

FOR HELP WITH YOUR VA CLAIM OR OTHER CIVIL LEGAL MATTER

AFLAN logo

The VLAP is a member of the Illinois Armed Forces Legal Aid Network. For assistance with your VA disability claim appeal or discharge upgrade, or civil legal matters like divorce, child custody, creditor/debtor issues, landlord-tenant problems, wills, etc. call the Illinois Armed Forces Legal Aid Network and speak with an attorney. The hotline is staffed Monday – Friday, 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Once you complete your intake with IL-AFLAN, you will be referred to the VLAP for further assistance with your VA disability claim appeal or discharge upgrade. 

WHO HANDLES THE CASES?

Veteran’s cases taken by the VLAP are assigned to second and third-year law students as part of their study of VA disability and benefits law and supervised by a licensed attorney.

PARTNERS/SPONSORS

clio logoThe VLAP is proud to partner with Clio Legal Practice Management Software through their generous Academic Access Program. Using Clio in our clinic provides our students with exposure to industry-leading legal technology and helps prepare them to succeed in the practice of law. The ability to access client files remotely from a central portal is critical in the mobile environment we work in and with the continually changing student advocates.

Using Clio Connect, the internal file sharing and communication portal, allows us to securely share documents with our clients. VA claims files often contain sensitive information, including social security numbers and medical records. Many of these files are also thousands of pages long. Clio Connect has an almost unlimited size capacity for the sharing of files.

We also use Clio Connect in our partnership with the SIU School of Medicine to securely share files with medical students.

VetLAMP

The SIU School of Law Veterans’ Legal Assistance Program has a partnership with the SIU School of Medicine called VetLAMP. Law students draft a short case explanation for the medical students to provide guidance on what information we need to succeed on the claim. The medical student retrieves the medical records from a Veteran’s Clio file through Clio Connect, and reviews them to provide a general explanation of the Veteran’s medical conditions. They also identify potentially significant diagnosis and provide potential medical connections. The students, supervised by a staff attorney and a physician, have a phone conference to discuss the case and the results of the records review. This thorough review of the medical records by someone with the proper training provides the Veteran with a better chance of success on the appeal to the VA.

For additional information about the VetLAMP collaboration between the law school and the medical school visit these resources:

Southern Illinois University News – Law and medical school form unique partnership.

WSIUTV - VetLAMP program to assist veterans in claiming disability benefits.

The Southern Illinoisan– SIU Law, medical schools form partnership with aim to help Illinois veterans. 

CONTACTING US FOR SERVICES

For additional information or to request legal assistance with a V.A. compensation appeal or petition for a discharge upgrade, contact the VLAP at (618)453-8280, or email: vlap@siu.edu.