Puller Clinic Presents Annual Bozman Award and Honors First Client

On Tuesday, April 23, William & Mary Law School’s Lewis B. Puller, Jr. Veterans Benefits Clinic held a reception honoring this year’s Bozman Award winner and dedicating a plaque in remembrance of the Clinic’s first client.Professor Caleb Stone

The Bozman Award is presented each year to a graduating 3L who exhibits outstanding character, leadership, and service to the Puller Clinic. It is presented in memory of Captain Ray Bozman, U.S. Navy Medical Corps, and in honor of his son, Jeff Bozman ’12, the first student involved with the Clinic and a Marine veteran.

This year’s Bozman Award winner is Josie McGuire, who worked with the Puller Clinic during the summer of 2023 and returned as an academic student this spring.

Professor Caleb Stone and Josie McGuire '24.“Josie has displayed exemplary diligence in service to our clients, and we appreciate the constant enthusiasm and diligence that characterized her work,” said Professor Caleb Stone ’15, “whether that meant sorting out complicated legal arguments for the Department of Veterans Affairs or just cleaning up the mess that inevitably comes from having the first Monday morning office hours shift every week.”

Stone said McGuire is one of the few students in the Puller Clinic’s history who has worked on multiple cases at the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims.

“Josie is looking to stay in this field after graduating, and she has our seal of approval,” Stone said.

Stone then turned to honoring the Clinic’s first client, Chief Petty Officer Gene M. Todd Jr., USN (Ret.). Todd passed away in October of 2023 and was the husband of Gloria Todd, the Law School’s former Office Manager, who retired in 2019.Gloria Todd

To help describe Gene Todd’s involvement with the Clinic, Stone shared remarks from Stacey-Rae Simcox, a founder of the Puller Clinic.

“When the Puller Clinic started in 2008, no one in the building had ever practiced veterans law before, and there weren't many veterans law practitioners in the nation,” Simcox said. “It was a fledgling area of the law, and we needed the right client to practice on. Miss Gloria immediately decided that Gene Todd was the perfect fit—whether he agreed or not.”

Simcox said that as a client, Gene Todd wasn’t afraid to ask questions and voice his opinions.

Gloria Todd“He referred to himself as our ‘guinea pig,’ and he sure earned it,” Simcox said. “After a time, Mr. Gene began to believe that the work we were doing could make a difference, not just in his life, but in the lives of other veterans.”

Simcox recounted that Todd also saw the students benefit and became the Clinic’s biggest supporter. She noted how he was there for every event, every open house, every tiny presentation; he texted jokes, he emailed support; he called just to say “hi” to all the students and staff.

“It’s hard to explain the impact Mr. Gene’s trust in and support of the Puller Clinic has had,” Simcox said. “It would not be an overstatement to say that thousands of people have been helped in so many ways. Every good result associated with the Puller Clinic started with that one handshake, where Mr. Gene trusted us, and we promised to listen to him and do our best.”

On hand as guest of honor, Todd’s wife, Gloria, said that everybody in the Clinic helped him and got him his disability compensation, which changed his outlook because somebody actually cared to help him.Challenge coin

“He tried to get these disability benefits for a long time, and he was just about to give up,” Todd said. “I want to thank you guys very, very much, and for helping these past veterans and those that you will be helping in the future.”

In addition to recognizing Josie McGuire and Chief Petty Officer Todd, the Clinic presented “challenge coins” to 3L students who had participated in the Clinic. The Puller Clinic challenge coins serve as a source of pride for the students and a reminder of their time in the Clinic and service to veterans.

For more information about the Puller Clinic and ways that you can help it help veterans, please visit the Puller Clinic webpage.