New York's first comprehensive veterans legal clinic opens in Syracuse

Jan 9, 2015

The Syracuse University School of Law is the site of the first comprehensive veterans legal clinic in New York state. The impact of having an attorney present is incredible, especially when veterans apply for benefits or an upgrade in their military discharge, according to one of the founders of the new Veterans Legal Clinic at SU’s law school.

"It's going to be a three-layer attack."

Tom Caruso, an alumnus and veteran, says studies show there is a 144 percent increase in compensation on VA claims, with decisions returned just a few weeks, when vets have an attorney helping them. That’s why Caruso and fellow law school graduate Josh Keefe have been pushing for this one stop legal shop.

Tom Caruso and Josh Keefe.
Credit Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

“Not only will you be able to get help with veterans specific issues at the Veterans Legal Clinic, but we have eight other legal clinics at the College of Law that offer pro bono services, and they will also take veterans on a priority status," Keefe said. "And on top of that, we’re forming a pro bono network of attorneys who will fill the gaps in anything the law school can’t help veterans with -- so it’s going to be a three-layer attack.”

As part of this program, more than a dozen law school students will help veterans with their issues.

According to a recent survey by the Veterans Administration, five of the top 10 unmet needs of veterans are legal in nature.