PRO BONO HONOREES
On October 25, 2022, the City Bar Justice Center commemorated the tremendous support of eleven volunteers, who were awarded with a 2022 Outstanding Pro Bono Service Award, for their remarkable commitment to our clients and for championing our team’s mission to advance access to justice. Congratulations!
Veterans Assistance Project: Potomac Law Group, Pro Bono Volunteers
The City Bar Justice Center’s Veterans Assistance Project (VAP) provides New York City veterans experiencing poverty and facing systemic barriers with pro bono legal assistance on issues related to their claims for benefits from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
Partner, Anthony C. Coles, and Counsel, Abigail F. Cousins, from the Potomac Law Group met their client at a VAP clinic in 2019 where he was seeking assistance with filing for service-connected disability due to his mental health issues, cognitive issues, sleep disorder, heart issues and post-traumatic stress disorder. The client unselfishly served this country in the Army for two years in the late 1960s and was honorably discharged.
To successfully submit a claim for service-connected compensation before the US Department of Veteran Affairs (VA), a veteran must demonstrate that they suffered an in-service event or condition that harmed the veteran, a current disability, and a nexus between the veteran’s current disability and in-service event. However, like many veterans whose files oftentimes do not contain notations or documentation of in-service events, the client faced difficulties providing evidence of an in-service event or condition that was directly linked to his current disability. It is also not uncommon for veterans to wait years, even decades, after their service to submit claims with the VA for a myriad of reasons. For example, some submit claims after their conditions worsen while others are unaware that they can receive compensation for certain conditions. Our client submitted a claim to the VA on his own, but it was denied.
The complexities of this case made it an uphill battle, but Anthony and Abigail still agreed to represent and assist the veteran. When they first met their client, they were working at a different firm, but because of their commitment to this veteran and his claims, they affirmatively requested to take this case with them when they joined the Potomac Law Group. Both have displayed spirited and zealous advocacy on behalf of their client, have appealed two denials, and are currently awaiting a decision from the Board of Veterans Appeals. In addition to helping their client, both Abigail and Anthony assist other VAP volunteers – they share helpful tips and information they come across during their representation that are useful for other volunteers. They understand that any advantages representatives have when advocating through the complexities of the VA will lead to a far better result in veterans obtaining access to much needed financial or health benefits.
Anthony and Abigail are exceptional representatives and advocates worthy of a 2022 Outstanding Pro Bono Award, and we applaud them for serving those who once served us.