Brittany Brooks

  • Hosted by Operation Sacred Trust
  • Sponsored by The Florida Bar Foundation
  • Service location Plantation, Florida
  • Law school Florida International University College of Law
  • Issue area Veterans' Rights
  • Fellowship class year 2020
  • Program Design Your Own Fellowship

The Project

Serving Our Sisters (“S.O.S.”) provides holistic and trauma-informed civil legal services to female veterans and all veteran survivors of military sexual trauma.

In addition to the struggles faced by all veterans, female veterans experience sexual assault, or military sexual trauma (MST), at a significantly higher rate than the general population. Thousands of veterans leave the military with less than honorable discharges due to the behavioral symptoms associated with MST and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). When veterans receive less than honorable discharges, their access to veteran resources is severely limited or completely taken away, which may result in a lack of medical care and homelessness. Many have a difficult time discussing the trauma they experienced with lawyers who are unfamiliar with military culture and the high rates of MST, and many female veterans are not comfortable seeking assistance from the male-dominated VA health system. Finding services that are both veteran-specific and trauma-informed can be difficult. S.O.S. expands Broward County veterans’ access to legal support by providing a safe space that offers holistic legal services.

Fellowship Highlights to Date

In the past twelve months, Brittany:

  • Established Serving Our Sisters, Florida’s first legal clinic specifically for female veterans and MST survivors
  • Providing full representation to 24 veteran clients, often addressing several legal needs for each client to provide holistic support
  • Provided brief services, advice and/or referrals to more than 15 additional veterans in need who did not qualify for full representation
  • Acquired income stability for a disabled veteran at risk of becoming homeless
  • Assisted multiple gender non-conforming veterans to receive the benefits they struggled to access
  • Conducted two virtual presentations, reaching hundreds with information on the project and its services

Next Steps

In the next year, Brittany Anne plans to:

  • Develop a comprehensive Broward County veterans’ resources booklet for veterans
  • Provide weekly outreach and office hours at the local Vet Center
  • Provide training on the unique considerations for veterans who are gender non-conforming and the associated additional impact MST can have
  • Provide training on resources available to homeless veterans and veterans at risk of homelessness

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