Photo of Samantha Kubek

Samantha Kubek

  • Hosted by New York Legal Assistance Group
  • Sponsored by Greenberg Traurig, LLP, Greystone & Co., Inc.
  • Service location New York, New York
  • Law school New York University School of Law
  • Issue area Veterans' Rights
  • Fellowship class year 2016
  • Program Design Your Own Fellowship
  • Current location New York

The Project

Female veterans, many of whom are survivors of military sexual assault or rape, face a unique set of legal issues. The U.S. Department of Defense estimates that in 2016, about 8,600 women were sexually assaulted while in the armed forces. Across the United States there are roughly 55,000 homeless women veterans, many of whom are homeless with their children. Rates of suicide are also on the rise, with women veterans committing suicide at nearly six times the rate of non-veteran women. Many female veterans are not comfortable seeking help at male-dominated VA health centers, and finding a safe space in which to meet their needs can be difficult.

Samantha’s project aimed to support female veterans by representing them on their VA benefits cases, helping them to obtain monthly compensation for the lasting trauma they still bear.

Fellowship Highlights

Drawing upon previous experience addressing women’s rights and family law issues, Samantha established the nation’s first legal clinics for female veterans at the Bronx and Manhattan VA hospitals, allowing clients to receive holistic, trauma-informed assistance. During her Fellowship, she conducted over 10 trainings for veterans and healthcare providers on veterans’ benefits, discharge upgrades, family law, LGBTQ rights, and PTSD. She also published the 3rd Edition of “The New York City Veteran’s Legal Guide,” a legal manual that encompasses multiple civil legal areas including VA benefits, family law, housing law, debt management, public benefits issues, and employment law.

Women veterans face a unique set of legal issues, particularly regarding government benefits and family law, as they return home from serving their country. Approximately 25% of women veterans are survivors of military sexual trauma, and 20% of women veterans who served in Operations Enduring Freedom, Iraqi Freedom, and New Dawn suffer from PTSD. Many of these veterans are not comfortable seeking help at male-dominated VA health centers, and finding a safe space in which to meet their needs can be difficult. This project expanded New York City’s women veterans’ access to legal advice and support, and afforded a safe space to go to address their specific legal needs in a trauma-informed environment.

What’s Next

Following her Fellowship, Samantha continues to represent women veterans at New York Legal Assistance Group, with plans to expand her practice to include post-9/11 male veterans through the Bronx and Manhattan VA Medical Centers

Media

Over 70,000 military sexual assaults took place last year -- Congress must take action

Legal Help for Female Veterans

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