The Veteran’s Law Clinic at Widener University Delaware Law School has reached the milestone of recovering more than $10 million in disability benefits owed to U.S. veterans whose claims were initially wrongfully denied.
The clinic provides free legal aid to disabled veterans and their dependents with appeal claims pending before the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). This August will mark 20 years of service for the clinic, which started as a Veteran’s Assistance Program in 1997, founded by Professor Emeritus Thomas J. Reed.
“The monetary milestone is great,” said Professor Amber Baylor, director of the clinic. “The most important part is that it marks the significant efforts to help veterans live sustainable lives.”
The clinic has recovered roughly $10.5 million as of the conclusion of the spring 2017 semester.
“The clinic’s continued success means a lot to the people of Delaware, southeastern Pennsylvania, and south New Jersey,” said Reed, who still works with the clinic as a volunteer. “Reaching the $10 million mark means we’re doing our job, but it doesn’t mean we’re slowing down.”
The pro bono program was the first of its kind in the country, and it expanded in 2006 when it became a clinic. In 2014, it was honored with the Delaware Governor’s Outstanding Volunteer Award for Community Service.
“The success represents all of the hard work that has been put forth to help aid veterans, but this hasn’t been just a one-person operation,” said Reed.
Cases are handled by approximately 10 to 20 students each semester, who receive no monetary compensation, and approximately 80 attorneys from the community who serve in a pro bono capacity. Students spend up to 20 hours per week in the clinic, including office hours where they assist with completing intakes for new clients and other administrative tasks.
This program is a significant point of pride for the school. It is a primary example of the university’s commitment to civic engagement and service learning. Delaware Law School believes in giving back to the community, and in learning by doing.
The clinic has represented hundreds of disabled veterans and their dependents and helped clients whose disability claims were initially wrongfully denied by the United States.