March 1, 2013
An Important Message from OMVLAP
~ written by Michael J. Renner
As many service members return from their deployments overseas and reenter the civilian population, they find jobs scarce and their military skills in low demand. As a result, these veterans may switch from the fighting elite to the general poor. Like many among the low-income community, these veterans find it difficult to pay their rent. They run up credit card debt and are chased by creditors. The job they left to serve their country is no longer available when they return. And the loving young married couple that existed before the deployment finds – after a difficult deployment for both - that neither is the same and the marriage is not sustainable. As a result, many American heroes quickly find themselves in the middle of our civil justice system without the resources to retain a lawyer for assistance.
The Ohio Military/Veterans Legal Assistance Project is set up to connect low-income veterans (and some active duty personnel) with volunteer lawyers willing to represent them pro bono in matters of landlord/tenant evictions, credit card debt, employment law, and uncontested divorce and dissolutions. OMVLAP anticipates most veterans seeking this legal help will be from the Iraq and Afghanistan eras, however this service will be available to all low-income Americans who once deployed with our nation’s military. OMVLAP is an evolving project: the initial pilot will focus on legal issues arising in Franklin and contiguous counties, with the hope of soon connecting services throughout Ohio. Potential clients will contact OMVLAP through a call center operated at Capital University Law School, and the call center will attempt to refer the matter to a volunteer lawyer for representation.
Legal professionals, OMVLAP needs your help. OMVLAP is asking the Columbus community’s lawyers to provide access to justice for low-income veterans through pro bono service. OMVLAP seeks lawyers willing to represent up to two veterans per year without fee. Lawyers who have already committed similarly to the Volunteer Recruiting Center are not being asked to double their volunteer activities; OMVLAP will be coordinating with the VRC to share the volunteer commitments.
We of the legal community are among the millions of Americans who have significantly benefited by these warriors' willingness to voluntarily put themselves in harm's way. They have already paid through their service. Honor their sacrifices by committing service of your own. Thank you!