In an August 27 letter to Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert McDonald, U.S. Senator Mark R. Warner of Virginia urged him to designate the Puller Veterans Benefits Clinic at William & Mary Law School as a Veterans Center for Excellence.
The move would, according to a statement from the senator's office, "authorize the national expansion of the College of William & Mary pro bono veterans legal clinic model to help more military veterans get their complex V-A disability claims submitted properly and processed more quickly."
Law School Dean Davison M. Douglas said that the school was deeply committed to the pro bono work conducted by the Puller Clinic. "We very much appreciate Senator Warner's support in promoting the clinic," he said, "and want to work with the Department of Veterans Affairs to take this model to more law schools across the country."
Puller Clinic Director Patricia E. Roberts said the clinic "is proud to serve our nation's veterans. We are humbled to have Senator Warner's support for an expansion of our collaboration with the VA, and look forward to continuing to lead in the development of additional pro bono efforts aimed at supporting our nation's heroes."
The Puller Clinic provides pro bono legal services to veterans with service-connected disabilities, as well as injured active duty service men and women going through the military's physical and medical evaluation process.
The Puller Clinic was the first in the nation to combine legal and psychological assistance to veterans seeking help with complex disability compensation claims, through a partnership with Virginia Commonwealth University's Center for Psychological Services and Development. This pro bono effort provides nearly half a million dollars annually in services to veterans, enriches the education of law and psychology students, reduces the stress on the veterans during the complicated and lengthy claims process, and supports the work of the Department of Veterans Affairs.
In April, the Law School hosted the first "Law Clinics Serving Veterans Conference" in which its clinical staff shared their best practices with faculty from about 40 law schools and universities from across the country. The event was also attended by lawyers from firms interested in providing pro bono representation to veterans.