VOLS Veterans Initiative Announced

November 11, 2019


A Message from Marcia Levy, VOLS Executive Director


On this Veterans Day, I bring a military mom’s pride to thinking about those who serve or have served.


It is sometimes hard to appreciate what service members do each day to be physically and psychologically ready to meet the challenges of military service. When my son was deployed, I came to appreciate that families serve, too. I felt humbled by the sacrifices made by those in the field and also by their loved ones at home.


Veterans Day is a day to stop, and to appreciate and be thankful to those who served our nation during peacetime and war.


VOLS is especially proud today to share two ways that we are supporting New York City’s veterans.


First, we are pleased to announce the launch of our new Veterans Initiative to empower older New Yorkers who served in the military to age in place with dignity and without fear of homelessness. Our expert team and network of pro bono attorneys assist veterans to draft and execute life planning documents, as well as to advise and represent them on a range of legal issues to ensure they can remain in the community. To support this work, we recently hired a new staff attorney, Jessica Penkoff, with initial seed funding from The New York Community Trust.


Second, today the New York Daily News published a guest column by VOLS' Peter Kempner, Legal Director and Director of our Elderly Project. In his capacity as co-chair of the New York City Veterans Law Working Group, Pete calls our attention to an alarming statistic published earlier this year by the New York City Bar Association.


Did you know that New York State has the fifth largest veteran population, but lags far behind other states in benefits received from the VA?


From Pete's New York Daily News guest column:


“Many Americans assume that when service members return home with injuries, they are automatically connected with their Veterans Affairs disability benefits. They do not realize that these veterans must first navigate a complex and inconsistent administrative process.

"An estimated 24% of veterans nationally are receiving disability benefits from the [U.S.] Department of Veterans Affairs. In New York, that number is less than 17%. These statistics suggest that tens of thousands of veterans across the state aren’t getting the VA benefits to which they are entitled."

"Today, New York taxpayers bear the cost of the VA’s failures when veterans and their families must turn to hospitals, shelters and public benefits. Until the state makes a commitment to provide our veterans with the legal assistance they require, New York communities will pay the price and veterans will continue to be deprived of the life-changing benefits they are owed."


VOLS is proud to advocate on behalf of veterans in the public arena, and we thank our partners in the New York Veterans Law Working Group, including: City Bar Justice Center, Feerick Center for Social Justice at Fordham Law School, Legal Services NYC, New York Legal Assistance Group - NYLAG, and Veteran Advocacy Project.


In November 2019, for Veterans Month, the VOLS team and our pro bono partners are proud to participate in 10 clinics, trainings, and presentations to serve New York City’s veterans through our Elderly and Microenterprise Projects. You can read the list in the below Veterans Month graphic.


Thank you to those who served our country, and Happy Veterans Day.



Marcia Levy
Executive Director
Volunteers of Legal Service


November 2019 is Veterans Month at VOLS: