JOBS & VOLUNTEERING

Staff Attorney, Discharge Upgrades

The Veteran Advocacy Project (VAP) seeks an attorney for our discharge upgrade practice, representing veterans before Department of Defense Review Boards.
VAP provides free legal services to low-income veterans and their families, with a focus on those living with Post Traumatic Stress, Traumatic Brain Injury, and substance use issues. We are partnered with VA hospitals, community health clinics, and local veterans’ groups to reach veterans where they are. While our attorneys tackle the legal challenges, our advocates ensure that our clients are connected to social services. With a dedicated team, VAP enables veterans to regain their health and rebuild their lives.

While the organization is small, we are growing. We have launched a criminal defense practice, providing mitigation expertise and representation in capital cases around the country; and we are expanding our justice-involved services, addressing problems that arise at the intersection of civil, criminal, and veterans law issues. Our homelessness prevention partnerships with social services agencies and our medical-legal partnerships are instrumental in our veterans law work. The common thread throughout our advocacy is that we fight for individuals who are living with mental health conditions. Our services provide access to health care and benefits, prevent incarceration and reduce recidivism, keep veterans and their families in their homes, and empower veterans by removing barriers to success.

The attorney will work with the team to address the legal needs of low-income veterans in a holistic manner. Under the supervision of our new Director of Military Law, the position will focus on applications to the DOD/DHS Discharge Review Boards and Boards for Correction of Military/Naval Records. The attorney will conduct outreach, engage in extensive investigation, research and write applications and briefs, collaborate with providers to obtain forensic psychiatric/psychological evaluations, and appear before administrative boards.

Individuals with military service, prior experience working with veterans, people with disabilities, people of all gender identities, people from underrepresented communities, and people of color are strongly encouraged to apply.

Responsibilities:

  • Represent clients before the DOD/DHS DRBs & BCM/NRs and potentially federal court;
  • Write discharge upgrade applications and briefs;
  • Screen veterans for relief, including exhaustive investigation of military history, post-service conduct, and medical records;
  • Collaborate with expert witnesses, including forensic mental health professionals;
  • Conduct intake at partner organizations’ sites;
  • Research legal issues, with a focus on military discharges;
  • Provide telephone and/or written advice to clients;
  • Provide thorough referrals to connect clients with other services; work with other staff on case strategies and integration of services to meet clients’ needs;
  • Track client information in our database, prepare reports required by funders, attend meetings, perform administrative tasks related to the work.

Qualifications:

  • Current member in good standing of a state bar;
  • Knowledge of the discharge upgrade or record correction process, including experience drafting applications to the BCMRs/DRBs, FOIA requests, and affidavits;
  • Excellent analytical and critical thinking skills;
  • Excellent organizational and time-management skills;
  • Excellent communication skills, including the ability to work well with people living with mental health conditions, substance use disorders, and traumatic brain injury;
  • Ability to work independently with strong motivation, to meet deadlines, and to be flexible;
  • Demonstrated commitment to social justice and veterans’ issues.

Salary is competitive and commensurate with experience, with generous benefits package. To apply: Please send a cover letter, resume, and writing sample to contact@veteranadvocacy.org and include “Staff Attorney, DOD” in the subject line. Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis. We are looking to hire for October 1, 2021. We read every application with care but will contact only those candidates selected for further consideration.

Veteran Advocacy Project, Inc., is an equal opportunity employer. All qualified applicants will be afforded equal employment opportunities without discrimination because of race, religion/creed, color, national origin, immigration status, gender or gender identity, age, disability, sexual orientation, military status, caregiver status, arrest or conviction record, unemployment status, predisposing genetic characteristics, survivor of domestic/intimate partner violence status, or marital or partnership status.

Staff Attorney, VA

The Veteran Advocacy Project (VAP) seeks an attorney for our veterans law practice, representing veterans in claims and appeals with the Department of Veterans Affairs.
VAP provides free legal services to low-income veterans and their families, with a focus on those living with Post Traumatic Stress, Traumatic Brain Injury, and substance use issues. We are partnered with VA hospitals, community health clinics, and local veterans’ groups to reach veterans where they are. While our attorneys tackle the legal challenges, our advocates ensure that our clients are connected to social services. With a dedicated team, VAP enables veterans to regain their health and rebuild their lives.

While the organization is small, we are growing. We have launched a criminal defense practice, providing mitigation expertise and representation in capital cases around the country; and we are expanding our justice-involved services, addressing problems that arise at the intersection of civil, criminal, and veterans law issues. Our homelessness prevention partnerships with social services agencies and our medical-legal partnerships are instrumental in our veterans law work. The common thread throughout our advocacy is that we fight for individuals who are living with mental health conditions. Our services provide access to health care and benefits, prevent incarceration and reduce recidivism, keep veterans and their families in their homes, and empower veterans by removing barriers to success.

The attorney will work with our staff to address the legal needs of low-income veterans in a holistic manner. The position will focus on enabling veterans to gain access to VA health care and resources. The attorney will collaborate with partner organizations to create long-term stability for veterans by providing representation in VA Character of Discharge (COD) determinations, eliminating VA debt, and appealing denials of VA disability benefits, with a focus on mental health related claims The work will include outreach at partner sites, communication with social workers and case managers, and the creation of both applications and appeals by gathering evidence, preparing briefs, and representing veterans in hearings.

Individuals with military service, prior experience working with veterans, people with disabilities, people of all gender identities, people from underrepresented communities, and people of color are strongly encouraged to apply.

Responsibilities:

  • Represent clients before the VA, and potentially in federal court;
  • Write briefs for VA COD and service-connected compensation appeals, along with various other VA claims;
  • Screen veterans for relief, including exhaustive investigation of military history and medical records;
  • Oversee assignments for law student’s working on investigations, claims, and briefs;
  • Collaborate with forensic mental health professionals;
  • Research legal issues, with a focus on military discharges and VA character eligibility;
  • Provide telephone and/or written advice to clients;
  • Provide thorough referrals to connect clients with other services; work with other staff on case strategies and integration of services to meet clients’ needs;
  • Work with the ED and other staff to shape policy positions and advocacy agenda;
  • Track client information in our database, contribute to reports required by funders, attend meetings, perform administrative tasks related to the work.

Qualifications:

  • Current member in good standing of a state bar (New York preferred);
  • Accredited with the Department of Veterans Affairs;
  • Minimum two years’ experience in veterans law matters:
  • Knowledge and practice in VA claims, including character of discharge applications and disability compensation appeals for PTSD and other mental health conditions;
  • Experience with VA hearings at the Regional Office level and at the BVA;
  • Excellent analytical and critical thinking skills;
  • Excellent organizational and time-management skills;
  • Excellent communication skills, including the ability to work well with people living with mental illness, substance use disorders, and traumatic brain injury;
  • Ability to work independently with strong motivation (a self-starter), to meet deadlines, to be flexible, and to ask questions;
  • Demonstrated commitment to social justice and veterans’ issues.

Salary is competitive and commensurate with experience, with generous benefits package. To apply: Please send a cover letter, resume, and writing sample to contact@veteranadvocacy.org and include “Staff Attorney, VA” in the subject line. Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis; we are looking to hire as soon as possible. We read every application with care but will contact only those candidates selected for further consideration.

Veteran Advocacy Project, Inc., is an equal opportunity employer. All qualified applicants will be afforded equal employment opportunities without discrimination because of race, religion/creed, color, national origin, immigration status, gender or gender identity, age, disability, sexual orientation, military status, caregiver status, arrest or conviction record, unemployment status, predisposing genetic characteristics, survivor of domestic/intimate partner violence status, or marital or partnership status.

Pro Bono

VAP welcomes partnerships with law firms that would like to take on pro bono cases. There is a great need for family law services, representation in housing court, and assistance with military discharge upgrades. To learn more about volunteering with VAP please email contact@veteranadvocacy.org.

Discharge Upgrade Clinic: When servicemembers leave the military their discharge status determines what benefits, if any, they will eligible to receive. A bad discharge can be a barrier to employment, benefits, and health care. Many of our servicemembers are given less than honorable discharges due to misconduct connected to mis- or undiagnosed Post Traumatic Stress and Traumatic Brain Injury. From 2011-2015, of the servicemembers who were discharged for misconduct, 62 percent had already been diagnosed with post traumatic stress or a a related mental health condition.   We are not only punishing injury, we are cutting them of from the very care they need to heal.

VAP is fighting to get these veterans the help they deserve. For firms who would like to take on cases, we have a “hands-on” approach that includes ongoing guidance, editing briefs, and coordinating moot hearings; we also have an online resource center with videos, sample applications, and more.

Internships

Please see the opportunities below:

Legal

The Veteran Advocacy Project provides legal representation to low-income veterans and their families, with a focus on those living with Post Traumatic Stress, Traumatic Brain Injury, substance use disorders, and other mental health issues.

Our practice covers Housing Court, VA claims, public benefits, military discharge upgrades, and more. We are seeking 2Ls and 3Ls with excellent analytical and critical thinking skills, demonstrated proficiency in legal research, and the ability to communicate well with others, including those living with mental illness. internships for our civil practice are available throughout the year. VAP participates in the PILC Fair for summer internships and slots are usually filled by the first or second week of February. If you are not applying through PILC, please submit an application before February 1.

For those interested in working on VA or DOD matters, please apply for a summer position, as veterans law cases are primarily assigned to law school clinic students during the spring and fall semesters.

Interns will participate in outreach and client interviews, represent veterans in administrative hearings, write legal memos, or assist in discharge upgrades or VA claims cases. They will be provided with training and supervision, including providing legal services with a trauma-informed approach.

Please send a resume and cover letter to contact@veteranadvocacy.org with the subject: “[Fall/Spring/Summer YYYY] Internship.” Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis.

Veteran Advocacy Project, Inc., is an equal opportunity employer. All qualified applicants will be afforded equal employment opportunities without discrimination because of race, religion/creed, color, national origin, immigration status, gender or gender identity, age, disability, sexual orientation, military status, caregiver status, arrest or conviction record, unemployment status, predisposing genetic characteristics, survivor of domestic/intimate partner violence status, or marital or partnership status.

Undergraduate

The Veteran Advocacy Project seeks an intern to assist with legal services. Responsibilities will range from direct client interaction to administrative work. The internship can be full- or part-time, and weekly hours are flexible. VAP will make every effort to support fellowship applications and other opportunities for funding so that income is not a barrier to an internship.

Internship responsibilities:

  • Interact with clients: intake, follow up interviews, assistance with paperwork (forms, releases, etc.);
  • Write letters to government agencies and clients;
  • Obtain and copy court files;
  • Provide thorough referrals to connect clients with other services;
  • Perform administrative tasks, including: covering the intake phone line, entering client information into multiple databases, copying, faxing, etc.

    Qualifications:

    • Excellent analytical and critical thinking skills;
    • Meticulous attention to detail;
    • Communication skills, including the ability to maintain confidentiality and to work with people living with mental illness;
    • Ability to work independently, to meet deadlines, and to be flexible

    Please send a resume and cover letter to contact@veteranadvocacy.org with the subject: Undergrad “[Fall/Spring/Summer YYYY] Internship.” Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis.

    Veteran Advocacy Project, Inc., is an equal opportunity employer. All qualified applicants will be afforded equal employment opportunities without discrimination because of race, religion/creed, color, national origin, immigration status, gender or gender identity, age, disability, sexual orientation, military status, caregiver status, arrest or conviction record, unemployment status, predisposing genetic characteristics, survivor of domestic/intimate partner violence status, or marital or partnership status.