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As we celebrate Veterans Day, Congress is debating legislation that would allow the Department of Veterans Affairs to directly fund civil legal aid for veterans. The Legal Services for Homeless Veterans Act would vastly expand access to justice for millions of veterans facing civil legal challenges by making lawyers available at VA medical centers where many veterans receive their healthcare.

I am part of a team of lawyers that provides civil legal aid to veterans through legal clinics conducted onsite at VA hospitals in New York. I have seen the enormous difference legal help can make in veterans’ health. Compared to the civilian population, veterans are at increased risk of homelessness, are more likely to experience disabilities and poor health, and women veterans are more likely to have been victims of sexual assault; legal problems bear on all of these social ills. According to a 2017 VA survey, four of the top ten unmet needs for homeless veterans involve legal problems.

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