/ Blog Post
Our nation’s heroes sacrifice everything to keep our country safe, but who’s protecting them when they return home from service?
That’s the question that 2012 Fellow Antoinette Balta asked when she would visit emergency shelters during her Fellowship. She looked around and noticed an influx of service members returning from Iraq and Afghanistan at the shelter.
According to a 2013 report by the National Low Income Housing Coalition, more than 1.5 million veteran households suffered from severe housing cost burden in 2011. Specifically, veterans who are racial minorities, who are women, who have disabilities, and who served after September 11, 2001, have the greatest need for affordable housing.
Inspired to take action against veteran homelessness, Antoinette created the Operation Veterans Re-Entry, in partnership with her host organization, the Public Law Center. Through the project, Antoinette was able to provide critical civil legal services to our nation’s heroes.
“Being an Equal Justice Works AmeriCorps Fellow was a pivotal point in my life and career. It provided me with the opportunity to serve and delve deeper into the idiosyncrasies of public interest,” said Antoinette. “Through my Fellowship, I was able to physically feel and see the difference a public interest attorney can make, fueling my desire to continue in high impact, life-changing work.”
When Antoinette finished her Fellowship, she knew there was more to be done. Her passion to help improve the quality of life for service members turned into a life-long career of serving veterans. As co-founder and executive director of the Veterans Legal Institute, Antoinette provides pro bono legal assistance to homeless, at-risk, disabled, and low-income current and former service members.
“Discovering that you have arrested the cycle of homelessness or suicide that impacts families and generations to come is more rewarding than any paycheck or pageant. Each day I fight to be a better advocate so that I can leave a legacy of hope for those around me,” said Antoinette.
At Equal Justice Works, we are proud of Antionette’s contributions to protecting veterans’ rights. To learn more about Antoinette’s Fellowship, visit her profile here.
Through my Fellowship, I was able to physically feel and see the difference a public interest attorney can make, fueling my desire to continue in high impact, life-changing work.
Antoinette Balta /
2012 Equal Justice Works Fellow