Danica Gonzalves

  • Hosted by Veterans Consortium Pro Bono Program, The
  • Sponsored by Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP, AT&T
  • Service location Washington, District of Columbia
  • Law school The George Washington University Law School
  • Issue area Veterans' Rights
  • Fellowship class year 2017
  • Program Design Your Own Fellowship

The Project

Danica is providing legal help to veterans wrongly given Other Than Honorable discharges due to Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder or Traumatic Brain Injury to ensure that these veterans get the medical treatment and disability benefits they deserve.

The Inspiration

Need Addressed By Project

Veterans, our nation’s defenders, deserve the benefits they were promised and the best legal services, at no charge, to meet their challenges and needs. Since 2001, more than 100,000 American service members have received Other Than Honorable discharges, and many were manifesting symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) or Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). Other Than Honorable discharges deprive veterans of VA and state benefits, limit job prospects, and damage reputations and self-esteem. The Discharge Upgrade Project assists veterans in upgrading their discharges by uniting veterans with pro bono attorneys, enabling them to receive the benefits they need.

Highlights to Date

In the first year, Danica has:

  • Provided representation in 50 pro bono cases to veterans wrongly given Other Than Honorable discharges.
  • Provided assistance to over 750 veterans, including intakes for discharge upgrade cases and assistance provided through legal clinics.
  • Hosted seven legal clinics and events where veterans received onsite legal assistance.
  • Spoken at 17 trainings and events for service providers and pro bono attorneys.
  • Trained two law schools in handing discharge upgrade cases.
  • Developed a training manual for discharge upgrades.

What’s Next

In the next year, Danica plans to:

  • Provide representation in at least 30 more cases.
  • Provide assistance to at least an additional 750 veterans seeking assistance with their discharge upgrades.
  • Host 10 more events for veteran services.
  • Provide at least five more trainings to service provider organizations and law firms.

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