You have reached your limit of free articles this month.

Enjoy unlimited access to

Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks.


  • ePAPER

You have read of premium articles.

Get unlimited access to all of our breaking news, in-depth coverage and interactive features. Starting at just 99c for 8 weeks.


Welcome to

Your source for Clark and Champaign counties’ hometown news. All readers have free access to a limited number of stories every month.

If you are a News-Sun subscriber, please take a moment to login for unlimited access.

Legal aid for Ohio veterans seen as possible model


Associated Press

After the warehouse where he worked for nearly three decades closed and he faced the prospect of losing his unemployment benefits, Steve Brannan didn’t know where to turn for legal help. An Army veteran, he had no money for a lawyer.

“I didn’t know where to turn, and I had to go to a lot of places before I found help,” said Brannan, 53, of Wilmington.

He eventually resolved the problem with help from the Legal Aid Society of Greater Cincinnati, but now, Brannan and other veterans will have help just for them. A call center to open this month in central Ohio will pair low-income veterans, active military personnel and their families who can’t afford attorneys with volunteer lawyers providing free representation in non-criminal cases. It’s part of what legal experts and others say it a growing effort across the United States to meet the legal needs of those who have served their country, including programs in Maine, Georgia and Oklahoma.

“We need to make sure those who have given so much to our country receive the help they need,” said former Ohio Supreme Court Justice Evelyn Stratton, who retired from the court last year to devote much of her time to helping veterans with mental health and legal issues.

Spearheaded by Stratton, the Columbus-based center is a joint project of the Ohio Military/Veterans Legal Assistance Project and Capital University Law School. It will provide referral service in Franklin, Delaware, Fairfield, Licking, Madison, Pickaway and Union counties, and officials hope it eventually can be expanded across Ohio and perhaps become a model for other areas. To be eligible for legal aid, , the income of the veterans and others seeking help can’t exceed 200 percent of the federal poverty guidelines.

“The end goal is to make sure no veteran or service member is denied the opportunity for legal assistance,” OMVLAP Director Mike Renner said.

There are no data on how many veterans and service members may need legal assistance in the U.S. But demand will only increase as more service members return to civilian life, said retired Army Col. David Sutherland, who heads the Washington-based Dixon Center, which works to address needs of veterans, military service members and their families.

“About 1,000 service members are leaving the military or being demobilized each day,” said Sutherland, and his organization estimates that about 1 million will leave over the next three years.

Though some free assistance for veterans and service members was available through legal aid agencies and other organizations in Ohio, Stratton said she worried that “agencies didn’t always know about each other.”

“I would like to see all of the state organizations together in one pro bono program,” said Stratton.”

Established partly with Columbus Foundation funding, Ohio’s center will offer help for problems including foreclosures, divorces and landlord-tenant and creditor-debtor issues. About 40 lawyers have volunteered so far.

The center joins similar projects developed by bar associations, law schools and other groups in a few states.

More such projects are showing up every few months, said Nan Heald, executive director of Pine Tree Legal Assistance in Maine, a statewide organization that provides free, civil legal assistance to low-income people. Pine Tree also helped create Stateside Legal, a website highlighting unique legal needs of veterans, military personnel and their families and resources to help solve those problems.

Special laws have been designed to protect veterans, service members and their families, but lack of knowledge about those laws can actually create headaches.

“A military family can come home and find their house has been foreclosed on, even though there’s a law that says that’s not supposed to happen,” she said. Stateside Legal works to increase awareness of those laws.

Reader Comments ...

Next Up in News

Neighbors, police puzzled by mysterious 'sonic boom' in North Carolina
Neighbors, police puzzled by mysterious 'sonic boom' in North Carolina

Mount Holly, North Carolina, residents want to know what was behind a sound that was so loud, it shook houses and left windows rattling throughout town Tuesday night. The Mount Holly  Police Department received roughly 30 911 calls between 8 p.m. and 10:30 p.m., reporting a loud “sonic boom” type noise. One woman said the sound was...
Judge Judy disapproves of one of President Obama’s latest decisions
Judge Judy disapproves of one of President Obama’s latest decisions

Judge Judy Sheindlin did not hide her opinion when TMZ asked her how she feels about President Obama’s recent decision to commute Chelsea Manning’s sentence, she certainly didn’t hide her opinion. “I’m not going to tell you right now,” Sheindlin said, playing coy at first. However, it didn’t...
Plenty of circus reactions

We got a bit of mail about the demise of the Ringling Bros and Barnum & Bailey Circus. From Nick Lubbers: “Yes, I will miss the circus. The circus could have done better keeping up with the market share of family entertainment today. But today, what kills traditions the most? The abuse of the First Amendment. Too many minuscule groups, fueled...
Drug bust yields millions of dollars worth of marijuana
Drug bust yields millions of dollars worth of marijuana

Atlanta police announced a huge drug bust Thursday, when officers seized thousands of pounds of marijuana. Police presented the 5,824 pounds of marijuana at the police department, Thursday. The drugs were valued at an estimated $9 million. More than 208 bales of marijuana were shrink-wrapped in green plastic. The plastic was covered with chlorine to...
Wright State selects 3 finalists for president’s job
Wright State selects 3 finalists for president’s job

Wright State has narrowed the list of candidates for its president’s job to three. Despite narrowing its list, the presidential search committee has not announced the names of the three finalists. Instead, their names will be released the day before each one visits campus, said Doug Fecher, trustee and chair of the search committee. Each candidate...
More Stories