Gov. Herbert signs resolution for veterans to receive free legal work

Veterans from the Patriot Riders post colors at the “Honor and Thank Law Enforcement” gathering at Vernon Worthen Park in St. George, Utah, July 10, 2016 | File photo by Cody Blowers, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — Veterans can now receive legal work from private attorneys without charge, thanks to a resolution that passed unanimously in the Utah Legislature and signed by Gov. Gary Herbert Tuesday.

Hundreds gather for the Veterans Parade on Telegraph Street in Washington City, Utah, Nov. 10, 2017 | File photo by Cody Blowers, St. George News

According to the text of the resolution, the move was done to thank veterans and military service members for their service by ensuring “justice for them and their families.” The resolution recognizes the pro bono legal assistance for civil legal cases offered by the Office of Military and Veteran Legal Assistance.

“Veterans sometimes just can’t afford some of the legal advice they need,” said Bruce Soloman, a veteran and a licensed clinical social worker. “I just think it’s a great opportunity for veterans to get some advice about matters that not only could help them in civil issues, but help them in parenting issues and other matters as well.”

The resolution, dubbed the Concurrent Resolution Recognizing the Military and Legal Assistance Program, covers civil legal issues for veterans and their families, including cases in consumer fraud, military rights, immigration, wills and powers of attorney.

Private lawyers who represent veterans or members of the military will be doing so as a volunteer and won’t receive any payment for their services unless there is money won from the opposing party in a case.

“They’re trying to find attorneys that will actually do this — that will actually work pro bono,” said Terry Dunne, a veteran and service officer for American Legion Post 90 in St. George.

The pro bono legal assistance through OMVLA is by referral only. To access these services, veterans will need to contact their local veterans service offices through the Utah Department of Veterans and Military Affairs.

Active military service members will need to contact their local Judge Advocate General Office to gain access to the pro bono legal services.

All veterans and active military service members are eligible for the pro bono legal work as long as they have not been dishonorably discharged.

“Originally, when I first heard about it, I thought it would not apply to all people,” Dunne said. “I thought it would only apply to the active-duty reserve and National Guard, but as I read further through the (resolution), it mentions how this will be for all veterans. I think that’s great; there’s probably a great need for this.”

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