Audra is a single mother and veteran who has mental and physical disabilities. After Audra got injured at her former job, she could no longer work and lapsed into periods of homelessness. During this difficult period, Audra accumulated minor traffic tickets that she was unable to pay off. After regaining permanent housing, Audra sought the help of MHAS to assist in resolving her traffic tickets. MHAS enlisted the pro bono help of Attorney Jonathan Weisberg who represented Audra in court. Jonathan succeeded in getting Audra’s tickets dismissed but could not have predicted the surprise that came with the judge’s decision.
“There was no heat, there was no hot water…It was a pretty desperate situation,” recounts Naomi Sultan, Skadden Fellow & MHAS Staff Attorney. In addition to major habitability problems, Edith* was facing eviction. Naomi partnered up with Jane Win-Thu, Equal Justice Works AmeriCorps Veterans Legal Corps Fellow, to fight for Edith, an elderly veteran with physical and mental disabilities.
*Client name has been changed to protect client confidentiality.
Mental illness is among the many burdens that challenge a large number of veterans. 30% of returning veterans suffer from a mental health or cognitive condition (RAND Center for Military Health Policy Research, Invisible Wounds of War, 2008). By providing legal assistance to these veterans, MHAS helps returning service members successfully transition to civilian life.
With the support of a Skadden Fellowship, MHAS has formed the Behavioral Health Legal Partnership for Veterans project (BeHeLP-Vets) to provide legal assistance to veterans who are homeless or at risk of homelessness. Skadden Fellow and MHAS Staff Attorney Naomi Sultan works with Operation Healthy Homecoming, a project of Mental Health America of Los Angeles, to resolve veterans’ legal issues in an effort to improve mental health outcomes and housing stability.
Arthur is a veteran who served in active duty for eight years, fighting in Iraq and earning the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal in addition to medals for good conduct and for serving in hostile territory. After returning home to Los Angeles, Arthur had trouble adjusting to civilian life and began accumulating traffic tickets, resulting in his license suspension. Arthur was referred to Mental Health Advocacy Services (MHAS) from Operation Healthy Homecoming to help resolve his legal issues.