PORTLAND, Maine — Local veterans can get free help with Veterans Affairs disability benefit applications and appeals, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 27, at the Portland Public Library, 5 Monument Square, through a free clinic sponsored by the Maine Volunteer Lawyers Project. Several volunteer attorneys and law students will provide free legal assistance to veterans.
To make an appointment, call Rob Liscord, AmeriCorps VISTA member, at 400-3232, although no appointment is necessary.
“With an increasing number of veterans returning home and having difficulty accessing the benefits they’ve earned, there is a great need for this clinic” said Juliet Holmes-Smith, director of the Volunteer Lawyers Project. “We hope this clinic will be the first of many in Maine.”
The number of attorneys and paralegals interested in volunteering to help to veterans has grown substantially due to personal experiences with family and friends who have had difficulty accessing the benefits they earned while in service, organizers of the event said.
Tom Marczak, regional organizer for the ABA’s Young Lawyer’s Division, has worked with the project to train and get the proper accreditation for the attorneys volunteering at the clinic.
This Portland clinic is modeled on the Project Salute Veteran Benefits Legal Aid Clinics that have taken place across the country in 2011 and 2012, organizers said.
The project was created in 1983 to coordinate the volunteer efforts of Maine attorneys and community members to provide legal assistance to Mainers with low incomes. The project, according to a press release, leverages support for legal assistance from private attorneys. Its volunteer network generates $1.5 million a year of in-kind services.