SIU School of Law, Medical School form unique partnership to help Illinois Veterans

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SIU School of Law, Medical School form unique partnership to help Illinois Veterans

November 07, 2019, by Pete Rosenbery

vetlamp top photo

CARBONDALE, Ill. — Students and faculty from the SIU School of Law and SIU School of Medicine are partners in a unique collaboration designed to streamline and bolster disability claims for Illinois military veterans. 

The Veterans Legal and Medical Partnership (VetLAMP) will provide additional assistance to military veterans statewide who are utilizing the law school’s Veterans’ Legal Assistance Program to help appeal denials of Veterans Affairs disability benefit claims. 

Third- and fourth-year medical school students, in collaboration with faculty, will review medical records for evidence to support service-related disability appeals. If there is a gap in the medical records, medical school faculty volunteers will advise students and, if needed, examine the veterans to complete missing information. 

Will provide better service to veterans 

VetLAMP is believed to be one of the first, if not the first, law/medical school partnerships for veterans. At a Veterans Summit in Mount Vernon sponsored by the SIU System in September, Dr. J. Kevin Dorsey, interim system president and former dean of the medical school, discussed the potential for a partnership with Martin Parsons, a clinical assistant professor and director of the Veterans’ Legal Assistant Program. They saw an opportunity to increase the legal program’s effectiveness by including the medical school and its students. 

Parsons and Carolyn Pointer, an assistant professor of medical humanities at the School of Medicine in Springfield, say they are excited for what the collaboration will mean in assisting veterans and providing an important educational component for students. Before the partnership, Parsons and students in the Veterans’ Legal Assistance Program reviewed medical records and used the internet to help them draw legal conclusions based on medical reports. 

Allowing School of Medicine faculty and students to focus on the medical aspects of a service-related disability appeal can move cases forward more quickly, allow more veterans to be helped and raise the success rate of appeals. 

The addition of the School of Medicine will likely get more physicians and psychiatrists involved for conditions like post-traumatic stress disorder, which tend to be underdiagnosed. Pointer said veterans’ survivors can also benefit if there is a belief a spouse died from a service-related illness that was denied or went undiagnosed. 

VetLAMP will be based at the SIU School of Law in Carbondale.

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