Sunday, December 20, 2020

Outreach to Rural Veterans – By Brent Filbert (Mizzou Law Veterans Clinic)

In 2019, the Mizzou Law Veterans Clinic kicked off an exciting program, entitled “Tigers for Troops” to provide needed assistance to veterans living in the rural areas of Missouri. 

Missouri has the 15th largest population of veterans of any state in the country. Approximately 65% of Missouri counties have no dedicated Veterans Service Officer from the Missouri Veterans Commission (MVC). These counties are almost exclusively in rural and remote parts of the state. This leaves approximately 131,000 mostly rural veterans without regular access to a VSO in their county. As a result, it can be very difficult for these veterans to get the necessary assistance to file VA disability claims and they rarely have access to veteran’s law attorneys who can represent them on appeal or in a discharge upgrade case. Moreover, as government systems, including VA, move more online, the lack of accessible broadband internet access in remote communities creates further issues for many rural Missouri veterans.

The Clinic’s solution to this problem was Tigers for Troops. This program was the first of its kind in the United States. Under the program, the Clinic partners with the University’s Extension offices in rural counties throughout the state, providing veterans throughout Missouri with access to the benefits they earned while serving our country. Law students in the Clinic, along with a supervising attorney, visit the extension offices to educate veterans about available resources and assist them with their claims and issues.  By doing all consultations remotely, the program has been operating at full capacity throughout the COVID Pandemic. So far, we have been able to reach 73 rural counties in Missouri. 

The Tigers for Troops program also trains attorneys throughout Missouri in veterans law so these lawyers can represent veterans on a pro bono basis. Thus far, we have been able to train over 250 attorneys. This significantly expands the number of attorneys in Missouri who are willing and able to represent veterans in VA and discharge upgrade cases. 

As part of the Clinic’s rural outreach program, the program’s director, Professor Brent Filbert, hosts a show on IHeart Radio entitled “Roundtable Serving Disabled Veterans in Rural America.”  The show occurs bi-monthly on the third Saturday of the month at 4 pm. EST/5 p.m. CST.  The next show will be on February 20, 2021.

| Permalink


Post a comment