Special Programs

Packages for Iraq and Afghanistan

The local chapter of the VVA, Post 310, has scheduled another packing party for troops overseas for Sunday, May 22nd at 3:00 P.M. at the VFW Post on Wagner Road. The VVA chapter proudly boasts that, in the 8 years since it began this effort for our troops, it has mailed 2,431 packages overseas.

The Washtenaw County Bar Association in association with Thomas M. Cooley Law School is also participating in “Operation Iraq-Afghanistan PAC” collecting clothing, personal care items, food and other items requested by our troops overseas. This “Operation” is a tri-annual collection drive that collects the requested items, packages them and ships them to bases in Iraq and Afghanistan. The items are initially collected locally at drop off points here in Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti and then delivered to a central collection and packaging facility at the Ford National Parts Distribution Center Garage located at Middlebelt and Plymouth in Livonia where volunteers help with the packaging and labeling of donations for shipment.

It is time for more Post 46 members to get involved and help in these worthy efforts to provide support and encouragement to our military personnel serving overseas. Veterans who give back to our community and our military service personnel is what we are all about. Please contact Post 46 without delay so that we can let you know how and where and when you can participate in either of these packaging drives by donating either your time or money (or both).

Below is a letter written by Post 46 Judge Advocate, Michael Malley, to the Dean of The University of Michigan Law School regarding veteran legal assistance and other matters facing returning servicemen on campus.

Re: Veteran Legal Assistance

Dear Dean Caminker:

It was with considerable disappointment that I received your email and learned that the University of Michigan Law School supports clinics on behalf of so many other interest groups that it does not have the resources to provide any assistance on behalf of our veterans.

Our veterans would appear to be the most deserving of all not only because they did not gain their status simply by inaction or merely by misfortune but because they actively volunteered to provide honorable service to their country.

Unfortunately, although President Bush signed the "Servicemembers Civil Relief Act" into law in 2003, many of our veterans are simply not aware of the significant protections from high interest loans or from real estate evictions; or their privilege to stay court and administrative hearings or to maintain state residence for tax purposes; or of other similar benefits which are available to them under this complete revision to the previous Soldiers' and Sailors' Civil Relief Act.

A clinic which provides legal assistance to our veterans would go a long way to bring these issues to the attention of our veterans and to the general public. Further, many of our veterans fall within scope of your other programs. Many of them have low income; an increasing number of them are women (according to our newly elected Senior Vice-Commander, she asserts that female veterans face yet additional issues) and many of them are simply unaware of the legal benefits available to them.

Is it possible that there is at least one faculty member on the University of Michigan Law School staff who might have served in the military and have sufficient interest in the unique problems faced by veterans to devote a small amount of time to a veterans assistance program? The American Legion is often overwhelmed with requests from veterans for legal assistance and we sorely need a resource to which we can refer them for information and counseling.

Thank you for any support or advice you can provide us regarding this often forgotten and overlooked group of citizens as we approach the Memorial Holiday weekend.

Very truly yours,

Michael P. Malley