2016 Equal Justice Works Fellow, Jessica Marsden

Jessica Marsden

Name of Host Organization: University of North Carolina School of Law Clinical Program
City, State: Chapel Hill, North Carolina
Issue area: Veterans' Rights
Sponsors: Raytheon Company; Kirkland & Ellis

The Project

Represent central North Carolina veterans in VA benefits appeals and discharge upgrade applications, and initiate a UNC law clinic to empower UNC law students to advocate for veterans in the same proceedings.

The Inspiration

Need Addressed By Project: 
As veterans return from deployments, many struggle with physical and mental health challenges caused by their military service. Those with service-connected disabilities are entitled to health care from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). But for many veterans, the VA claims process can be a slow, frustrating, and even insurmountable challenge. Legal representation significantly improves a veteran’s chance of success in both benefits and discharge upgrade proceedings.
The Right Person For This Project: 
Jessica is the right person for the project because:
• She is committed to helping veterans navigate the sometimes-labyrinthine path to obtaining needed benefits
• She has two years of experience representing low-income veterans in VA benefits, pardon, and other proceedings while in law school
• Her experience and enthusiasm, together with that of UNC’s law students, will expand access to justice for veterans and raise awareness in the legal community of these important issues

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