From: Agnew, Meagen
Sent: Tuesday, November 10, 2009 1:29 PM
To: Agnew, Meagen
Cc: Agnew, Meagen
Subject: Federal Funds Announced to Provide Legal Assistance to Low-Income Veterans

Contacts:                                                                                                      November 10, 2009                                                           

Meagen Peden Agnew – Legal Aid - (502) 584-1254                               

Trey Pollard – Congressman Yarmuth – (502) 582-5129

Lisa Aug – KDVA - (502) 564-9203

Federal Funds Announced to Provide Legal Assistance to Low-Income Veterans

FRANKFORT, Ky. (Nov. 10, 2009)— Today, Congressman John Yarmuth (KY-3), Kentucky Department of Veterans Affairs Commissioner Ken Lucas, and representatives from the Legal Aid Society of Louisville announced that the Legal Services Corporation (LSC) has awarded a $79,000 grant to the Legal Aid Society to provide legal assistance to low-income veterans in Kentucky. 

Kentucky is one of only four states awarded grant money for veterans through LSC’s Technology Initiative Grant Program. 

“I am proud but not surprised that Kentucky was one of only four states to receive this grant,” Governor Steve Beshear said.  “Kentucky has always been a leader in providing services to veterans, and the Kentucky Department of Veterans Affairs’ (KDVA) homeless veterans program in particular has received national recognition. Our thanks and congratulations go to the Legal Aid Society for stepping up and finding ways in this difficult budget climate to obtain outside funding to fill a critical need.”

During the grant application process, Congressman Yarmuth and Legal Aid worked together to secure the funding, with Congressman Yarmuth calling on the LSC to support Legal Aid’s request.

“Those who fought to protect our rights should never be left without the resources to secure their own,” said Congressman Yarmuth. “I’m proud to have helped Legal Aid with this grant and will continue to work to ensure Kentucky’s veterans have an ally in every corner – and especially within the legal process.”

Kentucky is home to approximately 344,000 veterans.  Despite its large community of veterans and the surge of veterans returning home from the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, Kentucky does not have a legal assistance program in place for this population. 

“It’s ironic and unacceptable that the veterans who most need legal help are those least able to afford it,” said Ken Lucas, Commissioner of the KDVA.  “This grant is a critical component of Kentucky’s services to veterans and their families.” 

“That’s where Legal Aid hopes to step in,” said Jeffrey Been, Executive Director of Legal Aid Society. “Veterans sacrifice so much for their country, but often come home and face the same challenges many other low-income citizens face, which includes a huge need for legal assistance.  This grant will allow us to reach out to veterans and assist with the legal obstacles that prevent some vets from achieving a stable and prosperous transition into civilian life.”

Veterans face a broad range of legal concerns.  Many are similar to those of average citizens and encompass family, housing, consumer, probate, wills, guardianship and bankruptcy law. By expanding Kentucky Online Self Help Assistant (KOSHA) technology, Legal Aid will develop guided interviews to specifically fit the legal needs of veterans.  The project will also connect veterans to existing online resources that are available from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and the Kentucky Department of Veterans Affairs, as well as Veterans Service Organizations and nonprofit groups like the National Veterans Legal Services Program.

Veterans also have legal needs that are exclusive to their time in service, including a need for information relating to the availability of benefits and assistance in navigating the complex structure of benefits claims and appeals. 

“KDVA and veterans organizations do tremendous work pursuing disability benefits for veterans, but still nearly a third of veterans receiving benefits go unrepresented, often losing out on thousands of dollars per year in eligible benefits.  Through partnering with the KDVA and veterans organizations, we hope to close that gap and get veterans the assistance they deserve,” said Marc Theriault, attorney and project manager at Legal Aid.

The mission of the Legal Aid Society is to pursue justice for people in poverty.  Legal Aid provides free legal services to low-income families and individuals facing serious threats to their physical and economic well-being.  For more information, contact Legal Aid at (502) 584-1254 or (800) 292-1862 or visit us online at www.laslou.org

The Legal Services Corporation is the single largest provider of civil legal aid for low-income people in the nation. Established by Congress in 1974, LSC operates as a private, nonprofit corporation that promotes equal access to justice and provides grants for high-quality civil legal assistance to low-income Americans. LSC distributes more than 95 percent of its total funding to 137 independent nonprofit legal aid programs with 918 offices that provide legal assistance to low-income individuals and families in every congressional district.