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Puller Veterans Benefits Clinic receives $50,000 grant from Dominion Energy

  • Helping veterans:
    Helping veterans:  A generous grant from the Dominion Energy Charitable Foundation to William & Mary Law School's Lewis B. Puller Jr. Veterans Benefits Clinic will extend the reach of Military Mondays across the country.  Photo illustration by Suzanne Seurattan
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William & Mary Law School’s Lewis B. Puller, Jr. Veterans Benefits Clinic has received a $50,000 grant from the Dominion Energy Charitable Foundation to help expand the reach and impact of its Military Mondays program.

Founded in June 2015, the Military Mondays program offers advice and counsel twice monthly at Starbucks to veterans seeking legal assistance. From its roots in Williamsburg, Virginia, the Military Mondays model has expanded through other nonprofits to 30 locations in 21 states.

“We are delighted to continue our association with Dominion Energy in helping veterans secure disability benefits,” said Davison M. Douglas, dean of W&M Law School and Arthur B. Hanson Professor of Law. “This crucial funding will extend the reach of Military Mondays across the country.”

The Puller Clinic provides $45,000 annually in pro bono services as part of Military Mondays and has served more than 275 veterans since the program’s inception. For its efforts, the program received the American Bar Association’s Brown Select Award in 2016, and the Federal Bar Association recently initiated a partnership with the Puller Clinic to pilot Military Mondays among their 19,000 members nationwide, ensuring that even more veterans will benefit.

The grant is evidence of Dominion’s corporate commitment to helping veterans, active duty military, and military families throughout the region they serve. Dominion is consistently ranked among the top companies in the United States in terms of support for veterans.

The Dominion Energy grant will allow the Puller Clinic to build on strong community collaborations and begin a short-term project that expands the Military Mondays program to eight additional states (partnering with the Federal Bar Association and other nonprofits). In addition, the clinic will collect and analyze impact and demographic data from all Military Mondays’ partners and produce a report to delineate outcomes, future improvements and expansion plans.

“With a combined number of living veterans in eight new states at just over 1.5 million, these partnerships would meet needs beyond what the Puller Clinic can do alone, and train more attorneys to provide pro bono services to veterans,” said Patricia Roberts, vice dean of W&M Law School, co-director of the Puller Clinic and director of clinical programs. “The data collection and research study will holistically evaluate the effectiveness of the program, and inform a roadmap of improvements and enhancements.

”Those who have attended Military Mondays events are glad of the expansion. One veteran, Charles Felling, did not avail himself of the Puller Clinic’s services, but accompanied another veteran and the veteran’s wife to a Military Mondays event. Soon after the veteran died, but the Puller Clinic was able to help keep his claim alive for his widow.

“The Puller Clinic and its smart, talented students are making such a positive impact to the Veterans in our area through Military Mondays,” Felling said.

Since its creation in 2008, the Puller Clinic has recovered $1.5 million in back pay for veteran clients and more than $25 million in lifetime benefits. More than 250 law students have been trained in veterans’ benefits law, and dozens of attorneys have been trained to provide pro bono representation to veterans in need of assistance. Many Puller Clinic graduates go on to develop pro bono programs supporting veterans in their communities following graduation.

The previous $25,000 grant from Dominion Energy in 2015 allowed the Puller Clinic to expand the informal coalition of more than 450 law school clinicians and other nonprofit legal service providers the Clinic founded in 2014. The informal coalition led to the formation of the National Law School Veterans Clinic Consortium, a 501(c)(3) that now has members from more than 22 law schools and programs serving veterans.

“We remain grateful for the support of Dominion Energy,” Roberts said. “Their continued generosity will allow us to serve our veterans well and wherever they are.”