Message from the Chair
Carol Wild Scott, Esq.
The Veterans Consortium Pro Bono Program
Members of the Veterans and Military Law Section: This message is woefully overdue and yes you read it correctly. We have reached out to our brothers and sisters in uniform and formally included them in the membership of the Section (Now “V&MLS”). For the last several years the roster of Section Committees has included a Military Law Committee, but it was felt that in light of the increasing emphasis on “smooth transition” of personnel from military to veteran status that this was an idea whose time has come. Along with this change is the assistance in the re-vitalization of the Pentagon Chapter.
Jim Richardson, past President of the FBA and now Chair of our Board of Directors has recently journeyed to New York to attend a dinner put on by the Southern District of New York Chapter honoring members of their federal judiciary who are WWII veterans—this was a wonderful idea and one that the Section will emulate in the future, beginning with the DC area. Jim has also been instrumental in supporting the Jobs for JAGS program and putting forth a tremendous effort with the Pentagon Chapter in concert with our National President, Robert DeSousa.
V&MLS co-produced a great program with the Criminal Law Section at the National Convention in San Diego, which addressed the Combat Veteran in the Criminal Justice System. The panel included a Veterans Law advocate—Katrina Eagle, the Criminal Justice Outreach Coordinator from the San Diego VAMC—Joy Villavicencio, Judge Paul Warner—a Federal Magistrate from Salt Lake City, and William Sheppard—a criminal defense attorney from Jacksonville, FL. It was very well received and we have made a film clip from the program available on the section’s site. I should note that we are planning yet another day long program on the same topic for the DC area the last week in February with the same inter-disciplinary presentation. When the venue and panel members are finalized, details will appear on this website.
I regret to advise the membership that for at least the 9th and maybe the 10th year the Indian Law Conference has declined to include a topic on some aspect of Veterans Law in any portion of its annual program in Santa Fe, NM. Therefore, as in many past years our Veterans & Military Law Section will have an informational table in the vendors’ area in order to provide information on Veterans Law to attendees. It is ironic that at the National Congress of the American Indian convention in Sacramento in October, NCAI’s general counsel came to the Veterans Committee and expressing ignorance of Veterans Law, advised us that they were concerned about the possible effect that large settlements from class actions would have on benefits received by Indian veterans. We have been in touch with VA Office of Tribal Governmental Affairs, the Indian Law Section, the National Native American Bar Association and NCAI in an attempt to assist NCAI’s legal team in making meaningful responses to the resulting issues.
Generally, the Section is in excellent shape. Our membership is gradually increasing. However, we are in great need of volunteers to contribute articles relating to Veterans and Military Law to include in Tommy, which is our traditional newsletter. We have also been offered a bi-monthly column in The Federal Lawyer—an offer I hate to ignore as it is a matchless opportunity to enlighten the FBA membership at-large of issues facing our veterans. The newsletter at one time was one of the best in the FBA. It has all but vanished in recent years. I urge the members to think about cases or programs in your areas of interest or in your communities and write about them for us. For instance, if a Veterans Court has been established in your community, let us know how it works and how it was established. If your community has had a recent stand down and offered legal advice to attendees, let us know about it. It may well encourage other members to make that effort in their own communities. Suggestions of topics for or guest authorship of our bi-monthly column are also welcome.
As I have said countless times before, we cannot do this alone. There is a wealth of talent and capability in our membership, which needs to be tapped. I look forward to a very productive year for the Section, especially with the inclusion of Military Law practitioners in our ranks. Welcome JAGs!
Carol Wild Scott