2011 AmeriCorps Legal Fellow, Elly Kugler

Elly Kugler

Name of Host Organization: Inner City Law Center
City, State: Los Angeles, California
Issue area: Veterans' Rights

The Project

The Homeless Veteran's Project of Inner City Law Center provides legal support to low-income and homeless veterans, with a special focus on serving women, people with mental illness and traumatic brain injury, survivors of sexual assault, and LGBT veterans. We represent clients who have been denied VA disability benefits, and assist clients to navigate other public entitlement systems as well. We also assist clients to expunge their criminal records so that they face fewer barriers to employment. Finally, we collaborate with other veteran-serving organizations to identify and eliminate systemic barriers to housing, healthcare and benefits.

The Inspiration

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This project is inspired by people's resilience. I have known many people who were struggling with mental illness. When people are in the midst of struggling with trauma and mental illness, interactions with the legal system can be overwhelmingly difficult. At such moments, it can make a huge difference to know that you have other people who are on your team, supporting you. I am proud to be part of my clients’ support network, and to be able to alleviate my clients of some of the stress that dealing with legal systems can cause. I also know that my project’s work has long-term impact. Every time we win someone the benefits to which they are entitled, that is one more person who will now be able to focus on other important priorities such as getting permanent housing, accessing healthcare, and building a healthy and stable life.

Biography

Hometown:

Silver Spring, Maryland

Law school:

Recommended books:

The Shock Doctrine by Naomi Klein (non-fiction, history and economics) Gardens in the Dunes by Leslie Marmon Silko (fiction, colonialism and Native rights) The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat by Oliver Sacks (non-fiction, mental health and psychology)

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