NLSLA is proud to announce the launch of its Veterans Initiative, a collaborative effort to address the legal needs of veterans and increase their access to critical housing and support services. Spearheading the effort is NLSLA’s new Equal Justice Works fellow Paula Clamurro, who will focus her work on finding and assisting Vietnam-era veterans who are now eligible to have their discharge status upgraded to “honorable” in recognition of their Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. The opportunity is monumental: a status upgrade will allow these veterans—many of whom have experienced homelessness—to apply for life-altering benefits.

PTSD was recognized as a medical condition in 1980, years after the Vietnam war ended. Many Vietnam veterans received less-than-honorable discharges for behaviors later identified as being caused by PTSD.Many of these veterans have struggled for decades without the resources they need to live stable lives. Now, veterans who have experienced chronic homelessness and incarceration due to Post Traumatic Stress can move from local general assistance of $221 per month to as much as $3200 per month. They can also access much-needed support services to help them–and their families–to heal.

The Department of Defense estimates there are more than 97,000 veterans nationally who are eligible for discharge upgrades, and Los Angeles is projected to have a disproportionate share of eligible veterans. NLSLA will work with key partners—including New Directions for Veterans and Pepperdine Law School—in order to bring these unprecedented opportunities to as many veterans as possible.