A new partnership between lawyers and Veteran Affairs in Columbia will provide free legal aid to low-income veterans for issues such as child support and health care rights.

The pro bono legal clinic, called Lawyers 4 Vets, will start May 15 and take place every third Thursday of the month at the VA medical center in Columbia. The clinic is open to veterans in York County.

Free Legal Aid Available For Low-Income SC VeteransVeterans living at or below 200 percent of the federal poverty line can set up appointments to discuss legal issues including state-granted expungements and pardons for criminal histories, consumer protection cases involving scams or fraud, and drafting a last will and testament.

Lawyers also can help replace lost identification such as Social Security cards – the first step in accessing services such as food stamps.

Joe Medlin, director of veterans affairs in York County, said he speaks with many veterans who experience fraud, elder abuse and other legal issues. He is working with the York County Bar Association to set up his clients with private attorneys who often take on the cases free of charge.

“There’s no secret there’s definitely a need,” said Ashley Thomas, a lawyer with S.C. Appleseed Legal Justice Center, a nonprofit public legal service. The center estimates there are nearly 30,000 veterans statewide living in poverty.

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Source: www.heraldonline.com; Jie Jenny Zou; April 22, 2014.