Robert M. Alexander

  • Hosted by Swords to Plowshares
  • Sponsored by Greenberg Traurig, LLP
  • Service location San Francisco, California
  • Law school Thomas R. Kline School of Law at Drexel University
  • Issue area LGBTQ+ Rights, Veterans' Rights
  • Fellowship class year 2018
  • Program Design Your Own Fellowship

The Project

Robert (Bob) provided outreach and tailored legal services to vulnerable LGBTQ veterans in the San Francisco Bay Area through community legal clinics, a newly established Medical-Legal Partnership, and collaborations with local service organizations.

LGBTQ veterans are over-represented in all the risk categories associated with veterans generally, such as homelessness, poverty, mental health issues, and suicide; yet, they are under-represented among veterans receiving VA benefits and services. LGBTQ veterans are not well understood because they do not readily self-identify and often eschew help due them because of the stigma and trauma many experienced during their military service and discharge process. Traditional spaces where veterans congregate or receive services often seem hostile to LGBTQ veterans.

Fellowship Highlights

During the two-year Fellowship period, Bob:

  • Provided full representation to 45 veterans before the Veterans Administration and boards of military correction, as well as limited assistance or legal referrals to an additional 58 veterans
  • Established a Medical Legal Partnership with San Francisco Vet Center, holding weekly legal clinics for vulnerable veterans with mental health issues who possess Less than Honorable discharges
  • Obtained over $582K in retroactive, lump-sum VA disability compensation and $25K in ongoing, monthly VA disability compensation for homeless or otherwise vulnerable veterans
  • Educated over 900 veterans, service providers, and allies about obtaining access to VA benefits and services, as well as discharge upgrades and corrections
  • Developed self-help guides for veterans seeking to upgrade their discharge characterization to fully Honorable and for transgender veterans seeking to change their name on their discharge paperwork and
  • Launched an LGBTQ veteran support group that offers weekly therapeutic group sessions and established an annual LGBTQ veteran celebration event at the San Francisco LGBT Center

What’s Next?

Now that the Fellowship is complete, Bob plans to continue and expand the work of his project as a staff attorney at Swords to Plowshares.

Media

’16 Alumnus Selected for Prestigious Equal Justice Works Post Graduate Fellowship

Vets Kicked Out for Being Gay Can Upgrade Their Discharge

Meet Other Fellows Like Robert

View All

Photo of Christian Piatt

Christian Piatt

Host: Homeless Persons Representation Project, Inc.

Sponsor: Covington & Burling LLP, Northrop Grumman Corporation

Maria Ceballos-Zagales

Host: Bay Area Legal Services

Sponsor: Kirkland & Ellis, Raytheon

Current Fellow

Steffi Romano

Host: UnLocal, Inc

Sponsor: The Paul Rapoport Foundation

Leah E. Weston

Host: University of Miami School of Law - Health Rights Clinic