2014 Equal Justice Works Fellow, Johnathan Silva

Johnathan Silva

Name of Host Organization: Lone Star Legal Aid
City, State: Houston, Texas
Issue area: Veterans' Rights, Health Care/Medical-Legal Partnership
Sponsors: Texas Access to Justice Foundation

The Project

Johnathan represented veterans who are denied the full benefits that their service and/or level of service-related injury merit.

The Inspiration

Need Addressed By Project: 
The backlog in the processing of veterans’ benefits claims is well-documented. The pressures to reduce the backlog contributes to error rates in claims across the country as well as errors in assessing medical conditions that leave veterans with reduced levels of benefits. There are too many veterans with disability awards that understate the level of injury and loss of function. Johnathan’s project advocates on behalf of these veterans to ensure that they receive the correct benefits they have earned and deserve.
Fellowship Highlights: 
In the past two years, Johnathan has:
• Provided advice/brief services to 164 unique clients on veteran benefits matters (e.g., discharge upgrades, disability compensation, medical benefits, and surviving spouse benefits)
• Led over 85 trainings and presentations, including Know Your Rights workshops, to veterans and their families
• Created a training manual covering VA benefits, Texas state veterans’ benefits, and discharge upgrades
• Obtained thousands of dollars in economic benefits for underserved clients in the form of veterans benefits appeals, access to housing, employment, pension benefits, and reduced debts
Where are they now?: 
Now that the Fellowship is complete, Johnathan will:
• Continue the important work started during this Fellowship by supporting pro bono efforts in my new position
• Begin a position at Mukerji Law Firm, practicing criminal defense

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