The newest addition to USD’s Legal Clinics, the Veterans Clinic, provided its first community outreach presentation last Thursday, September 20th at 1:00pm at Veterans Village of San Diego (VVSD). Legal Intern Andy Leglovan and Law Clerk Kaitlin Diamond presented to approximately 15 attendees, under the direction of Supervising Attorney Bob Muth. The goal of the Veterans Clinic is both to assist individuals who have been defrauded in the use of GI Bill funds and predatory lending, as well as to conduct outreach to the community to educate veterans, reservists and active duty personnel before they sign enrollment agreements.
“Our presentation had a few dynamics,” comments Legal Intern Andy Leglovan. “We informed veterans about their Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits, provided them with tips for choosing the appropriate school for their desired occupation and explained the problems that veterans in the past have had with the for-profit college industry. Such problems include telling veterans that credits will transfer to other universities when they don’t, that the GI Bill will cover all of the tuition when it doesn’t, and, worst of all, telling disabled veterans that extra assistance will be given to them when it isn’t.”
Over the past month, the Veterans Clinic Legal Interns worked diligently under the direction of Professor Muth to prepare the PowerPoint presentation that was utilized for this presentation, and will be used for future presentations. VVSD is a long-standing USD Legal Clinics collaborating organization and, as such, was the perfect venue for the first Veterans Clinic presentation. “Many of the individuals participating in VVSD are among our most vulnerable veterans and therefore make a particularly appealing target for the for-profit education companies,” comments Professor Muth. “Additionally VVSD has begun to provide services to an increasingly larger number of younger veterans and as they attempt to make a successful transition to the civilian world – a quality education can play a vital role in that process. For those veterans at VVSD that have already been defrauded of their GI Bill education benefits, it is important for them to know that there is some place they can turn for help.”
The Veterans Clinic is the most visible aspect of the new USD Initiative to Protect Student Veterans, made possible by the financial support of a family foundation interested in veterans’ education issues. Free legal services are provided and range from advice to identification of potential claims to representation in litigation, arbitration and other forms of dispute resolution.
“The attendees were very interested in finding out more about how to educate themselves in order to make informed choices when choosing a school,” states Law Clerk Kaitlin Diamond. “We were able to provide specific tips and websites in order to help prevent these veterans from being defrauded in the future. There were also a number of attendees who had attended and felt defrauded by a for-profit institution and asked if they had viable options for bringing a claim.”
Many more of these outreach presentations have already been scheduled for the coming weeks and months, providing the Legal Interns, faculty and staff with an increased opportunity to understand the types of difficulties veterans are experiencing. “I was particularly struck by the percentage of younger veterans we met at the VVSD presentation that had used their GI Bill education benefits at a for-profit education company and then had significantly negative outcomes as a result,” comments Professor Muth. “The experience of the veterans at VVSD was consistent with what we have heard from other veterans with respect to the strong-arm recruiting tactics and false-promises made by too many of the for-profit education companies.”
In addition to providing vital information to attendees about their rights, questions to ask and resources in the community, another important function of the presentation is to let participants know about the free legal services provided by USD’s Legal Clinics. “I felt great personally getting the word out about the Veterans Legal Clinic and all that it has to offer,” says Leglovan. “Being a beneficiary of the Post 9/11 GI Bill myself, I am particularly outraged by the deceptive tactics of the for-profit school industry. It feels really good being a part of a completely selfless cause which aims to restore veterans with their much-deserved benefits.”
For more information regarding the free legal services provided by the Veterans Clinic, visit our website or call the Legal Clinics at (619) 260-7470.