Summer at the Puller Veterans Benefits Clinic

swinkby Austin Swink, Class of 2017

This past summer, I worked at The Lewis B. Puller, Jr. Veterans Benefits Clinic at William & Mary Law School. This clinic specializes in providing pro bono legal aid to veterans. The Puller Clinic primarily focuses on the practice areas of disability compensation with the Department of Veterans Affairs and discharge upgrades with the armed services. The clinic’s reputation has grown throughout the legal community and the nation. This is well earned. The clinicians and students at the clinic work very hard to help these deserving veterans.

 
One of the most exciting developments at the Puller Clinic this summer was the kickoff of Military Mondays. Military Mondays is a partnership with Starbucks in which the Puller Clinic staff hold legal consultation meetings with veterans at a local Starbucks location. The veterans at these meeting make appointments to receive free legal advice regarding their disability compensation claims. More information on Military Mondays can be found here.

 
I have found the work at the Puller Clinic to be both personally and professionally rewarding. The veterans we work with are not new to the VA claims process. They have often endured rejection, frustration, and confusion. While the men and women at the Department of Veteran Affairs are working to help veterans, the system is in need of reform. That discussion is for another time and place, but the reality veterans face is enough to motivate law students and clinicians to take action.

 
The first lesson students learn at the Puller Clinic is that the men and women served at the Puller Clinic are not victims. They are hardworking men and women who spent time performing a duty that over nine in ten of us will never personally experience. They sacrificed, and the result was the endurance of the greatest nation on earth and the continued advancement of human freedom in the globe. This is no small accomplishment, and in return we owe them a great debt. That debt can never be repaid. However, by serving our veterans through programs like the Puller Clinic we can do our part to honor their service by serving them.

 

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