October 2019 VIP: Javier Centonzio
Each month, The Veterans Consortium recognizes a “VIP” – Volunteer Inspiring Pro Bono. TVC values all our volunteers and wish to recognize those who inspire others.
Javier Centonzio, Esq.
Centonzio Law, PLLC
TVC National Volunteer Corps
Few people have the inspiration and drive of Marine Corps veteran and attorney Javier A. Centonzio. Centonzio, who served as an infantryman in Iraq, was inspired to become a lawyer and advocate for veterans after a close friend was killed in Iraq.
“I wanted to honor his memory,” Centonzio says of his late friend. Upon his return home, he completed his Bachelor’s Degree in just two years, followed by Stetson University in Florida for his law degree.
While at Stetson, he helped to start the Veterans Law Institute, which serves the veteran population in Tampa by reaching out to attorneys and other volunteers interested in helping veterans and their families. “My goal was to create a program where we can really become a local leader in veteran’s law with cases, outreach and advocacy,” Centonzio says.
While in law school, Centonzio worked at TVC as a David Isbell intern. “During my internship, I was able to connect with some excellent attorneys who had been working in veterans’ law for quite some time. It was an invaluable experience and a great learning opportunity,” he says. “My time at TVC allowed me to regain a sense of purpose that I’d lost when I left the military.” Centonzio was born in Puerto Rico but grew up in Kansas City, MO. He is fluent in Spanish and provides a critical service to TVC by taking most cases with Spanish speaking clients. Centonzio is particularly passionate about helping Puerto Rican veterans and their families, which fills a critical need at TVC.
In the last year, TVC has seen an increase in cases from Puerto Rico, where many clients speak limited English. These cases can sometimes be difficult to place. There have also been cases with Spanish speaking clients that needed immediate placement, those that come at a later stage in the appeal or those that need a replacement attorney due to the language barrier. Centonzio takes these types of cases without hesitation.
“We have a real shortage of Spanish speaking lawyers to handle cases for Spanish speaking individuals who have appeals before the court,” says Judy Donegan, TVC’s Director of Litigation and Case Management. “Javier has proven to be critical to our mission and I believe will continue to be so. Being a veteran himself, he has a real passion for fellow veterans.” It is because of his dedication to serving TVC’s Spanish speaking clients, willingness to take on cases that need immediate representation, and for achieving favorable outcomes in most of his cases, that Javier Centonzio has been named The Veterans Consortium’s Volunteer Inspiring Pro Bono (VIP) for October 2019.
We will also honor Javier on 6 November at our 2019 Pro Bono Mission Partner Reception with TVC’s Chairman’s Award for his tireless devotion and ongoing service to the veteran population. “TVC should be commended for their important work serving veterans. I believe more attorneys should take these cases, especially those who can assist the Spanish speaking population,” Centonzio says. “TVC and all the attorneys who have taken cases, should be commended for what they do.”
Centonzio is the founder of Centonzio Law, PLLC in Florida, providing services for the local population and for veterans. He also volunteers his time with military-related programs and organizations like the Wounded Warriors Abilities Ranch and the Tragedy Assistance Program for survivors.