Both national and state surveys consistently demonstrate that veterans have unmet legal needs. Our veterans regularly face civil legal challenges that threaten their safety, stability and financial security. They often struggle to access earned veterans benefits, secure housing, obtain healthcare and medical benefits, and resolve family issues. Ohio’s legal aids serve over 5,000 veterans annually and help them overcome these challenges to get back on the path to stable housing, health, and employment.
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) serves as a hub for veterans’ services. Under the current law, the VA cannot directly fund civil legal services for veterans, one of their greatest needs. Additional funding through the VA will help Ohio’s legal aids serve more Ohio veterans.
Congress approved legislation that permits the VA to directly fund legal services for veterans at risk of homelessness and sent the bill to the President on December 16, 2020. This language, originally part of the Legal Services for Homeless Veterans Act championed by Reps. Joyce Beatty and Steve Stivers, was included in H.R. 7105.