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The Veterans Consortium Pro Bono Program

August 2016 VIP: Tommy Smith

August 2016 VIP: Tommy Smith“I have never met the client I represented, and I do not know him personally. But I do know his story. He was in the U.S. Army from 1966-1972, and he served in Vietnam. I was in high school and college at that time. He was awarded the Vietnam Service Medal and the Vietnam Campaign Medal. I was safe at home and my biggest worries were my next calculus exam and the football game on Saturday. He had been dealing with the debilitating effects of psoriatic arthritis for much of his post military life, and I had been blessed with good health, a wonderful family, and two careers, one in industry and a new one in the field of law.

"In December of 2014, when the CAVC vacated the Board’s denial of his benefits and remanded the matter for readjudication, the opinion contained the following quote, 'Many unfortunate and meritorious [veterans], whom Congress have justly thought proper objects of immediate relief, may suffer great distress, even by a short delay, and may be utterly ruined, by a long one....' Case of Hayburn, 2 U.S. 408, 410 (1792). This was certainly true of my client; but the sad fact is that he is joined by a host of fellow vets who are waiting for someone like you or me to let them know that they are not alone.

"When I found the Veterans Consortium, I was not looking for a way to help Vets. I was a new attorney looking for a way to build my practice. I am an Elder Law attorney, but at that time I knew nothing about Veterans Benefits. The training was free and the potential was great. It was a “no-brainer” for me. Although the training was good, it was overwhelming at the time. However, having a real case of my own forced me to wade through all the materials and begin to put the pieces of the puzzle in place. I wish I could tell you that I found a wonderful career handling compensation appeals, but I didn’t; however, I did find a door, a door of opportunity and a way to touch a life."