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VA Connecticut Healthcare System

 

Connecticut Veterans Legal Center wins national VA award

April 22, 2015

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) selected the Connecticut Veterans Legal Center (CVLC) and the Errera Community Care Center for national recognition for their groundbreaking legal-medical partnership. CVLC provides free legal services for homeless military veterans at the VA Connecticut Healthcare System Errera Community Care Center located in West Haven.

CVLC is one of three winners nationwide of the 2015 Veterans Health Administration Community Partnership Challenge, a national competition to recognize outstanding public-private partnerships.

CVLC, the first and largest partnership integrating legal help into VA care, was selected from among hundreds of applicants in the annual contest, and will receive special recognition from the Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs.

“This award shows that VA understands and values the role lawyers can plan in helping veterans build happy, healthy lives,” said CVLC co-founder attorney Margaret Middleton.

“I hope this award will allow CVLC to expand its funding and to expand its reach,” said Cindy Johnson, a CVLC staff attorney. “We are so lucky to do wonderful work with great partners and the best clients.”

“The legal obstacles experienced by the veterans they serve can seem to be insurmountable and the anxiety experienced as a result can be paralyzing at times,” said Susan Gibbs, a Veterans Justice Outreach Specialist at the Errerra Center. “The connection of this partnership has a positive impact on the veterans’ self-esteem and often provides the fuel necessary for the veteran to make lifestyle changes more supportive of recovery.”

“We hope that this award will raise the profile of medical-legal partnerships so that we can scale this model and help veterans everywhere get the legal care they have earned through their service,” Middleton said.

Since starting CVLC in 2009, Ms. Middleton has expanded to nine staff members, enlists the help of over 600 volunteer attorneys, paralegals and law students, and has served over 1,300 veterans.

CVLC typically works with veterans to resolve a variety of legal issues including family, housing, expungement, bankruptcy, consumer, Social Security, VA benefits, employment, estate planning and military discharge upgrades. CVLC’s partnership with the Errera Center has helped 65 percent of participating veterans facing eviction improve their housing stability and has collectively improved their financial status by over $700,000.

More information about CVLC can be found at http://ctveteranslegal.org/