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New Legal Aid program helps veterans

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Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee and the Cumberlands, with an office in Oak Ridge to serve Roane County, has launched a new program with the Nashville Bar Association to support veterans with legal issues.

The new program, called The Veterans Project, is a partnership among the Association, Veterans Court, Office of the Mayor of Metropolitan Nashville, Metro Homelessness Commission, Operation Stand Down TN and Legal Aid Society’s Volunteer Lawyers Program.

The program is primarily focused on helping veterans who are homeless or facing homelessness. Help with civil legal problems is available to all veterans. The scope of civil legal issues for which veterans can seek help includes child support, debt, bankruptcy, car purchase/repair, family law, expungement and reinstatement of driver’s licenses.

“Based on the experience of OSDTN and Veterans Court, we were able to identify a set of common legal issues that veterans face,” said Lucinda Smith, director of Legal Aid Society’s Volunteer Lawyers Program.

“Many veterans experience physical and mental health issues, lack of income, involvement with the criminal justice system — and all of these things together have a negative impact on their ability to get and maintain housing.”

As part of the Veterans Project partnership, Legal Aid Society will take direct referrals from the Metro Homelessness Commission and the Veterans Court.

Legal Aid Society will also coordinate weekly staffing of “Attorney for the Day” events at Operation Stand Down, where veterans can meet with a volunteer attorney for counsel in identifying legal issues and then be referred for additional representation.

“This program allows us to create new portals for veterans to find legal help,” Smith added. “And by partnering with wonderful local organizations like OSDTN and the Veterans Court, we are able to expand our resources to serve more veterans in the Middle Tennessee area.”

Attorney for the Day events will be from 11 a.m to 1 p.m. every Wednesday at Operation Stand Down in Nashville.

Attorneys will meet with clients per week on a first-come, first-served basis.