Call center starts operations to connect veterans, active military with legal services

3/12/2013  -  A call center that helps connect Central Ohio’s low-income veterans and active military personnel to legal services is now in operation at Capital University Law School.

The joint venture between the Ohio Military/Veterans Legal Assistance Project and the Law School was announced in November. The partnership is designed to make it easier for low income veterans and active military personal in Franklin, Delaware, Fairfield, Licking, Madison, Pickaway and Union counties to get legal assistance they might not otherwise be able to afford.

Interested veterans may call the center toll free at 1-877-759-6182.

The call center will attempt to help OMVLAP, in conjunction with Columbus Legal Aid, connect financially strapped veterans and active duty service members with legal representation in areas of divorce, dissolution, employment, consumer and housing issues. Eligible veterans include anyone who has ever been on federal deployment and who meet income requirements.

The center will be staffed by Michael Nugent, a fourth-year Capital University Law School student whose experience has included work for the Ohio Attorney General’s Office as a legal intern and claims account representative. He also has externed for the Ohio Nurses Association and for the Honorable George C. Smith of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio.

OMVLAP was launched in June 2012 thanks to funding from the WalMart Foundation and the Ohio State Bar Foundation. It arose out of the Ohio Veterans WrapAround Project, created by Ohio Supreme Court Justice Evelyn Lundberg Stratton. The call center was made possible in part through a $25,000 grant from the William C. and Naoma W. Denison, Robert Bartels, Virginia Hall Beale and Robert B. Hurst funds of the Columbus Foundation.

The call center also will refer some matters each semester to Capital University Law School’s Legal Clinic, which has provided a variety of legal assistance services to low income individuals since 1971. In the clinic, Capital students who hold intern licenses and applicable legal skills work under the direct supervision of licensed practicing attorneys, including those who manage the clinic. The Legal Clinic staff anticipates being able to help up to 25 veterans and active duty military personnel per semester.

Approximately 29,000 people in Central Ohio are active military, including the National Guard and Reserve, and their dependents. Statewide, that number is more than 115,000. According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, there are also approximately 867,000 veterans in Ohio.