I am writing in response to Tracie Mauriello's April 16 article "Pittsburgh Area Veterans Hit Hard by Backlog of Claims." One of the biggest challenges facing our region's veterans is securing the benefits to which they are entitled. Their inability to secure these benefits negatively affects the quality of their lives and the lives of their families in significant ways, often limiting or denying access to housing, medical care and educational assistance. Our veterans deserve better.
The University of Pittsburgh School of Law community recognizes that, among their many needs, our veterans need access to no-cost or low-cost legal assistance. Pitt Law's Veterans Legal Clinic Practicum, which will launch in August 2013, is designed to help fill that need.
The VLCP was created at the initiative of our law students to assist veterans with filing claims for benefits, to identify the most significant legal issues for our region's veterans, to refer veterans with legal issues beyond the practicum's scope to legal practitioners with knowledge and skills in veterans' affairs and to become a clearinghouse for veterans' resources by partnering with other community and governmental organizations. Funding to establish the clinic has come from such generous donors as the Buhl, Hillman Family and Scaife Family foundations, as well as from the university itself.
Among those who will benefit from the VLCP are not only our veterans and their families, but also Pitt Law students, who will gain real-world experience that will enable them to continue helping veterans long after they graduate from Pitt Law.
It is our hope that the VLCP will expand and continue to enable us to give back to the veterans who have given us all so much.
WILLIAM M. CARTER JR.
University of Pittsburgh School of Law