Bar Association helps vets

Legal help can make the difference between independent living and future homelessness for many veterans.

This year the Shreveport Bar Foundation Pro-Bono project is hosting regular legal clinics for residents of the Veterans Transitional Living Program, to prepare them to enter the workforce.

“I’m really surprised how much it’s helped,” Staff Attorney Gernine Mailhes said. “Many couldn’t get jobs because of their records.”

Since June, they have helped 17 people with everything from expungements to divorce and custody issues.

While serious felonies can’t be erased, it is often misdemeanors and warrants that pose problems.

In many cases vets have an old DWI or misdemeanor traffic violation that shows up on background checks. In one case, this meant a trucker couldn’t get a job, despite demonstrated sobriety. He was retried and hired so that he can now live independently.

“They think it just goes away,” Mailhes said. “Part of their treatment is to face these issues.”

In addition to clinics at the Veterans Home, the Pro-Bono Project is sponsoring quarterly clinics for all veterans. The next one will be held from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Oct. 9 at the Highland Center, 520 Olive St., Shreveport.

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