2024 Design-Your-Own Fellowship Applications are Open

Learn More & Apply

Headshot of Jason Davidson

Jason Davidson

  • Hosted by National Veterans Legal Services Program
  • Sponsored by Latham & Watkins LLP
  • Service location Washington, District of Columbia
  • Law school University of North Carolina School of Law
  • Issue area Health Care, Veterans' Rights
  • Fellowship class year 2023
  • Program Design-Your-Own Fellowship

The Project

Jason’s (he/him) project through the National Veterans Legal Services Program will provide legal and policy advocacy as well as a nationwide outreach campaign to assist combat veterans in obtaining and overturning improper denials of Combat-Related Special Compensation (CRSC) benefits.

Veterans who served in combat in Iraq and Afghanistan frequently suffer from debilitating illness or unique forms of cancer caused by exposure to burn pits from inhaling the smoke created by burning trash, medical waste, asbestos, and other hazardous chemicals. The SFC Heath Robinson Honoring Our PACT Act enables veterans to obtain CRSC benefits for these conditions through the Department of Defense; however, there is very little awareness of the expanded eligibility for this entitlement since the PACT Act does not specifically mention CRSC and veterans’ groups commonly focus solely on the expansion of VA benefits. CRSC provides an additional tax-free monthly benefit to assist retired, disabled veterans to support themselves and their families—which is critical for veterans who are unemployed due to battling cancer or other illnesses. This benefit is only useful if veterans are aware of its existence.

Prior to attending law school, Jason served for over fourteen years on active duty in the U.S. Army as an infantry paratrooper. While in the military, Jason completed multiple overseas assignments, including two combat deployments to Afghanistan. In Afghanistan, Jason was involved in both direct and indirect firefights and suffered traumatic brain injury from an improvised explosive device blast. With his health failing and a desire to spend more time with his family, Jason decided to forego military retirement to attend law school in hopes of being able to better serve his fellow veterans. Jason knows firsthand that military service is often the source of complex physical, emotional, and behavioral impairments resulting from repeated exposure to trauma throughout a veteran’s career. As a 100% disabled veteran, Jason is also intimately familiar with the obstacles veterans face in obtaining the benefits they have earned. Jason is deeply and profoundly thankful for the opportunity to continue serving his fellow veterans by assisting them in securing benefits they are rightfully owed through this Equal Justice Works Fellowship.

Fellowship Plans

Jason plans to address this issue by engaging in a nationwide outreach campaign to inform veterans that the recently enacted PACT Act significantly expands eligibility for CRSC for a host of conditions associated with exposure to burn pits in Iraq and Afghanistan. This outreach campaign, through the assistance of Latham and Watkins, LLP, will further inform veterans who have been previously denied for presumptive conditions may seek assistance from the National Veterans Legal Services Program for appeals. Additionally, Jason plans to substantially reduce the number of veterans improperly denied CRSC through impact litigation and administrative and policy advocacy to improve consistency, uniformity, and access to justice between the military branches.

My Equal Justice Works Fellowship will afford me the opportunity to serve disabled veterans who, as a result of exposure to toxic burn pits while in combat, are now battling cancer and other rare illnesses. As a 100% disabled combat veteran, I'm honored and proud to continue a career of service by assisting my fellow veterans to obtain benefits that will make a monumental impact on improving their quality of life.

Jason Davidson /
2023 Equal Justice Works Fellow

Meet Other Fellows Like Jason

View All

Photo of Matthew Handley

Matthew Handley

Host: National Veterans Legal Services Program

Sponsor: Lockheed Martin Corporation

Current Fellow

Sarah Schwartz

Host: Legal Services of Eastern Missouri, Inc.

Sponsor: Cravath, Swaine & Moore LLP, The Anheuser-Busch Foundation

Mariah Hanley

Host: Northwest Justice Project

Sponsor: Microsoft Corporation, Perkins Coie LLP

Melissa Trent

Host: Legal Action Center

Sponsor: Friends and Family of Philip M. Stern