2025 Design-Your-Own Fellowship Applications are Open

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Meghan Carter

The Project

Meghan (She/Her) represents veterans who are pursuing discharge upgrades. By providing direct support and advocacy, this project seeks to empower veterans to navigate the complex process of upgrading their discharge status.

There are approximately 500,000 veterans who have served our country and were discharged as “other than honorable,” restricting their access to disability benefits and healthcare. Some service members have received this discharge status because they suffer from post-traumatic-stress-disorder and/or military sexual assault while in service. This project, in conjunction with the disability benefits work done at Stetson’s Veterans Advocacy Clinic, assists veterans to obtain their full range of benefits.

Several generations of Meghan’s family have served in the United States military. Meghan’s experience in Stetson’s Veterans Law Institute and Veterans Advocacy Clinic allowed her dive headfirst into veterans’ disability claims and she has not looked back since.

Fellowship Plans

Meghan will represent veterans throughout the discharge upgrade process, including paperwork completion, evidence gathering, and legal representation. She will tailor support to each veteran’s unique circumstances, ensuring personalized guidance and representation. Meghan will collaborate with outside organizations to share resources to best represent veterans in discharge upgrade cases. Additionally, she will provide educational resources and workshops to inform veterans of their rights and options for discharge upgrades.

I take pride in having a family tradition of service, and I am driven by a deep passion for veterans’ rights. It is an honor and privilege to serve those who have given their all for our country.

Meghan Carter /
2024 Equal Justice Works Fellow

The Project

Michael advocates, represents, and mediates for veterans to address niche family law issues that stem from the unique circumstances that veterans and their families face.

More than 159,000 veterans and 80,000 active-duty military service members call San Antonio, Texas home. With one of the largest concentrations of military bases in the United States, San Antonio has earned the title of “Military City, USA.” With such a large population of veterans comes a great need for veterans to have affordable access to legal services. The stressors of military life, from deployments overseas to long hours at home, create stressful circumstances that the entire military family unit has to bear. Both the dependents of our veterans and their extended families face unique issues when that family unit is troubled. From child custody disputes crossing state lines and even overseas to the division of assets in divorces involving military disability compensation, pensions, and retirements, these matters require a high level of subject-matter expertise. Such expertise is paramount to ensuring that our servicemembers and their families get the highest quality of legal assistance they deserve. Veterans and their families need a comprehensive response to their family law needs. They need zealous, cost-effective, and efficient solutions in resolving their claims both inside and outside of the courtroom.

Michael’s family history, which includes several of his family members having served honorably in the U.S. Armed Forces, motivates his commitment to expanding legal access in the military community.

Fellowship Plans

Michael plans to address these unique challenges during his Fellowship by running a bifurcated military family law clinic with his host organization. In this clinic, Michael will advocate for the use of alternative dispute resolution methods through family law mediation. If a veteran has already tried to use family law mediation or elects not to choose Michael (or a network of volunteer mediators) as a mediator, Michael will zealously represent the veteran in court or will refer the matter to an established network of volunteer attorneys. Michael also intends to educate the local San Antonio Bar Association and other legal providers on the nuances of military family law issues. This training of other lawyers in these unique legal issues will allow for the continuity of Michael’s mission so that veterans in San Antonio have access to legal providers with the necessary subject-matter expertise to assist in their legal matters long after his Fellowship ends.

As the son of a 100 percent disabled veteran, and as someone who grew up in the military community and who witnessed the hardships a military family endures, I felt a strong sense of personal responsibility in ensuring the best possible outcome for our veterans and their families.

Michael A. Argenal /
2024 Equal Justice Works Fellow

The Project

Zoe will promote the stability and wellness of veterans by creating a Medical-Legal Partnership between Texas Legal Services Center and the Austin VA Clinic.

Texas has the second-largest veteran population in the country. Most Texan veterans have a service-connected disability, and a large number live under 150% of the federal poverty level. Many Central Texas veterans struggle to meet their basic needs, and accessing in person resources can often mean a trek of an hour or more. Veterans apply for services at the Austin VA Clinic (AVAC) every day, and many have legal issues. Meanwhile, Austin area housing costs are the highest in Texas and the cost-of-living squeezes area veterans. Thus, veterans often cannot afford the lawyer they need if facing a legal challenge. Losing these legal battles can result in the loss of a home, money, or even child custody. The result is a significant erosion of stability and wellness. This project will address veteran stability and wellness by embedding legal services at AVAC.

Zoe is excited to establish a Medical-Legal Partnership so that hardworking veterans can flourish, especially given her commitment to practicing innovative, client-centered lawyering.

Fellowship Plans

Through the creation of this Medical-Legal Partnership, Zoe will provide resources to address health-harming legal needs that veterans face. Zoe will represent veterans in eviction and foreclosure cases, as well as discharge upgrades. She will also help veterans access financial security and familial stability through supporting existing legal needs. Furthermore, Zoe will host know-your-rights seminars at the Austin VA Clinic and build relationships with social service organizations to co-locate veterans’ services.

I have always been passionate about fighting for the rights of marginalized groups. Veterans are often overlooked and underappreciated, despite the fact they risked their lives serving for our country. I am honored to have the opportunity to help these brave individuals thrive.

Zoe Dobkin /
2024 Equal Justice Works Fellow

The Project

Caillean (she/her/hers) will focus on providing legal representation and education to veterans experiencing or at risk of experiencing homelessness and income insecurity in Southeastern Pennsylvania.

In 2021, the Veterans Administration surveyed 1,773 homeless veterans; each of the top ten unmet needs reported by respondents involved legal issues. A formal medical-legal partnership (MLP) between Legal Aid of Southeastern Pennsylvania and Philadelphia-area veteran-serving medical facilities will provide veterans access to competent, accessible, and trauma-informed legal services. By meeting veterans where they are and working in conjunction with healthcare providers through a MLP, Caillean’s project will empower veterans with the assistance they need to address legal and medical needs adversely affecting their wellbeing.

Fellowship Plans

Caillean’s project is designed to increase access to a wide range of civil legal services for veterans in Legal Aid of Southeastern Pennsylvania’s core service area of Bucks, Chester, Delaware, and Montgomery counties, with specific focus on VA benefits and military discharge upgrades, through targeted outreach at veteran-serving medical facilities in the area.

Caillean will steward a continually growing number of veterans benefits and discharge upgrade cases as a member of the Legal Aid of Southeastern Pennsylvania team. She will engage with staff of veteran-serving medical facilities, including training VA healthcare teams, specifically social workers, to identify when a veteran may be facing one of a wide array of legal issues that Legal Aid of Southeastern Pennsylvania can assist with, particularly VA benefits and military discharge upgrades. She will work with the social work teams to discuss and create training materials surrounding race-, gender-, and sexual-orientation-/gender-identity-based discrimination as it relates to clients’ claims, specifically for post-traumatic stress disorder. She will conduct monthly outreach and intake, and provide direct advocacy, to reach more veterans and help them access healthcare, VA benefits, military discharge upgrades, and other legal services.

All people, regardless of class, background, and circumstances, deserve access to the support and resources they need to live with dignity and fulfillment. This belief brought me to law school, and I am honored to now be able to put this belief into action through my Equal Justice Works Fellowship

Caillean E. Daily /
2024 Equal Justice Works Fellow

The Project

Drew’s (she/her/hers) project will address the unmet needs of female veterans, especially those who have experienced Military Sexual Trauma (MST), through direct legal services, community outreach, and legislative/policy advocacy.

Veterans are one of the most vulnerable and overlooked populations that require various legal services. Veteran status intersects with gender, race, and socioeconomic background, which often creates opportunity for exploitation, discrimination, and lack of access to resources. Staggeringly, one in three women who have served in the military expressed that they have experienced Military Sexual Trauma (MST) while on active duty.

Drew’s great uncle served in the Army during the Vietnam War, where he was exposed to Agent Orange and consequently suffered from dementia. Watching her great aunt struggle to receive assistance with his care from the VA motivates her to work with and advocate for veterans.

Fellowship Plans

During her Fellowship, Drew will develop long term rapport with organizations and stakeholders to better inform community outreach and understand the needs of female veterans. In developing this network, Drew will provide legal services in the form of VA claims and discharge upgrades, create a comprehensive resource guide based on assessed needs, and provide training events to disperse such materials.

I attended law school with the aim of working in gender justice. MST is a pervasive and troubling harm that women disproportionately face when they choose to serve our country. It is my hope to provide these women with the legal support they have been denied in the past.

Drew Wilds /
2024 Equal Justice Works Fellow

The Project

Coco’s Fellowship provided legal representation and outreach to low-income veterans with mental illness in New York City to ensure that they have access to income, treatment, and housing.

Next Steps

Coco Culhane is the founder and executive director of the Veteran Advocacy Project. She is an adjunct professor of clinical law at Brooklyn Law School, where she teaches the Veterans’ Rights Clinic. She sits on the New York State Discharge Upgrade Advisory Board, is a founding advisor to the NYC Veterans Alliance, and is a member of the Veterans’ Mental Health Coalition Advisory Board. She has presented on veterans’ legal issues and conducted trainings for attorneys, social workers, and students at conferences across the country.

The Project

Danicole will provide compassionate legal services and advocacy for noncitizen veterans who served in the United States military.

Foreign-born residents comprise nearly a quarter of Hawai‘i’s population of 1.4 million and include an estimated 40,000 undocumented residents and 106,000 veterans. Yet, only eight lawyers statewide provide free or low-cost immigration legal services to immigrant communities. In Hawai‘i, two of the largest immigrant communities are the Filipino and Pacific Islander communities. Noncitizen veterans from these communities can end up in removal proceedings and be removed despite being eligible to naturalize earlier. Many failed to naturalize because they did not understand the process.

Danicole’s immigrant heritage and service to the United States military inspire his commitment to serve the immigrants who served this country.

Fellowship Plans

During his Fellowship, Danicole will help noncitizen veterans navigate the naturalization process and represent them in removal proceedings. He will also collaborate with veteran organizations to ensure noncitizen veterans are aware of the immigration benefits to which they are entitled. Finally, Danicole will develop a policy report and advocate at the state and federal level about issues impacting noncitizen veterans in Hawai‘i.

Media

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As a child of immigrants and someone who serves in the military, I believe noncitizen veterans are the embodiment of American patriotism. They deserve dignity and respect for their sacrifices to this country.

Danicole Ramos /
2023 Equal Justice Works Fellow

The Project

Chris (he/him/his) will help noncitizen U.S. military veterans and active duty service members obtain citizenship, veterans benefits, and public assistance benefits they may qualify for.

Despite provisions of law designed to give immigrants who served in the military a streamlined path to citizenship, between 90,000 and 125,000 veterans remain noncitizens. The law is supposed to be on their side, but their path to citizenship is often blocked by the inherent difficulties of navigating the nation’s complex and unforgiving immigration system. This phenomenon has been exacerbated as, over the last six years, the executive branch and military placed additional hurdles in the path of service members seeking to naturalize. No one who has put their life on the line for this country should ever face deportation, but many do because they were unable to complete the naturalization process while eligible, and later—often minor—infractions put their immigration status in jeopardy.

Chris is an Iraq War veteran who relied on local interpreters to do his job. He was inspired to seek a career in immigration law by seeing the hurdles they faced and the desperate conditions that led them, like many other hopeful immigrants, to hope for safety in the U.S.

Fellowship Plans

Chris will combat the deportation and marginalization of noncitizen veterans in southwest Texas through outreach, education, and representation in naturalization, VA benefits, and public assistance benefits. His foremost focus will be on preventative action: helping those still on active duty navigate the naturalization process and forestall any possibility of adverse future action. At the same time, he will partner with Texas RioGrande Legal Aid and pro bono attorneys to grow long-term capacity to represent other noncitizen veterans. Chris’ efforts will be underpinned by outreach to veteran and community organizations, leveraging their existing ties to the population to help build a client base.

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As an American, I think the U.S. should welcome all immigrants. As a veteran, I am appalled that someone who has served, as I did, could ever face deportation.

Chris Rogers /
2023 Equal Justice Works Fellow

The Project

Allen (he/him/his) will mitigate veteran homelessness in rural Central Texas by implementing a Medical-Legal Partnership at a VA Clinic to meet legal needs related to housing, discharge upgrades, and financial and familial stability.

Many rural veterans in Central Texas face the risk of homelessness, struggling to meet needs associated with food, housing, and financial security, among others. These needs directly cause health issues and prevent veterans from maintaining their health, such as attending regular check-ups. A Medical-Legal Partnership with a rural VA Clinic will bring legal services to rural veterans to improve their health by addressing their health-harming legal needs. In doing so, the Medical-Legal Partnership will mitigate veteran homelessness.

Allen’s commitment to increasing access to justice for Texans drives him to advocate for underserved populations, including low-income rural veterans.

Fellowship Plans

During his Fellowship, Allen will screen veteran patients for health-harming legal needs and provide legal services at the VA Clinic. Additionally, he will provide Know Your Rights seminars for the veterans, conduct trainings on recognizing health-harming legal needs for VA staff, and collaborate with community service organizations to maximize the positive impact on veterans’ legal and physical health.

As a family member of medical professionals, I feel strongly about closing the justice gap at the intersection of health and law for underserved rural veterans, who themselves have committed their lives to service of others.

Allen Martin /
2022 Equal Justice Works Fellow

The Project

Zach (he/him/his) will create a national pro bono network to provide legal assistance for traumatically-injured military service members who are denied recovery benefits. He will engage in community lawyering and systemic advocacy to increase access to financial assistance for these service members.

Military service members recovering from traumatic injuries often incur significant financial expenses, requiring medical services, rehabilitation, and caregiving as they recover. Many turn to the Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance Traumatic Injury Program (TSGLI) for aid, which was established by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and the Department of Defense (DoD) to provide rapid, short-term financial assistance to these service members. However, applicants for TSGLI are frequently denied access to this benefit. Subsequently, traumatically injured service members are often left to pay for their recovery out of pocket, placing them at risk of incurring financial debt or falling into poverty.

Fellowship Plans

Through the National Veterans Legal Services Program (NVLSP)’s Lawyers Serving Warriors® (LSW) program, Zach will create the first-of-its-kind national pro bono network for legal assistance with TSGLI claims and appeals. He will train pro bono attorneys on TSGLI claim representation, place claimants seeking assistance with these volunteers, and mentor pro bono advocates as they assist TSGLI claimants. Zach will also employ a community lawyering model to reach traumatically injured service members by conducting Know-Your-Rights presentations, developing educational resources on TSGLI applications, and hosting legal clinics for TSGLI claim assistance. He will also increase access to TSGLI benefits by using administrative and legislative avenues to engage in systemic advocacy.

Media

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No veteran should face the threat of disabled poverty because they were traumatically injured during their service. As a second-generation American and family member to six Army veterans, I will fight to make sure our veterans receive every benefit that they have earned.

Zach Outzen /
2022 Equal Justice Works Fellow