By Michael Reed
As of this publication, John Marshall is host to approximately 900 students, each with the hopes of entering the legal profession. Of these student, as many as thirty of have identified themselves as veterans or dependents of a veteran.
John Marshall has always been home to veterans looking to go to law school after returning home from service. Many of these student leave to find rewarding roles working in private practice or local government, but many return to our Nation’s armed forces as JAG (Judge Advocate General) officers. Among the most notable veteran’s to graduate from our venerable institution is Louis L. Biro, the 6th floor library’s name- sake in recognition of his services and tenure as President of the Board of Trustees.
In 2010, John Marshall continued its commitment to serving veterans living in Chicago and Northern Illinois when it purchased the “Taxpayers” building at 19 W. Jackson, and developed the Veterans Legal Support Center & Clinic (VLSC) which now occupies the ground floor of the building. The clinic’s aim is to pro- vide pro bono legal services to veterans as they attempt to navigate the frustrating bureaucracy of the US Department of Veteran’s Affairs in search of disability, education, and medical benefits which they are entitled through their service. VLSC is student run and has received over 8,000 inquiries from veterans across the state looking for the assistance of its trained and capable staff.
To further the interests of veterans within the John Marshall community, a chapter of the Stu- dent Veterans of America (SVA) was founded in 2012 by Veterans David Weiss and Aaron Koonce. This chapter has worked tirelessly to ensure that the school remains responsive to the voices of fighting men and women in our midst. In November the SVA will be furthering its mission by opening a new space on campus, exclusively for veterans.
This new space is the VLSC VetCenter and its dedication of this made possible through a grant from the Home Depot Foundation. The Center will be located on the 11th floor of the
law school’s historic 304 S. State Street building. The goal of the Center is to provide for Veterans on campus with a space to socialize, study, and connect through their shared experiences of service in order to cope with the tremendous demands of a law school education. The space will only be accessible to veterans who will be able to access it with their student ID cards.
Many find the law school to be a stressful and seem like an unparalleled struggle, especially in the first year student. Everyone needs a sup- port network during these early stages of their law school career. For veterans the most obvious comradery is with others who have volunteered to serve in the Nations defense. Finding allies for academic, emotional, and psychological support is key to surviving law school. John Marshall is committed to making the transition from veteran, to civilian, to esquire as painless as possible and the Center is simply the latest advantage it has to offer veterans interested in the legal profession.
The Center doesn’t just serve student veterans though. Any veteran looking for a place to interact with other veterans, find information and resources, get help navigating the procedures of the Veteran’s Affairs Office, or who even just needs a quit place to stop and chill is welcome. In order to gain access to this space, all a veteran need to do is reach out to and be cleared by security. If you know someone who is a veteran who needs help getting the benefits they are entitled to or who simply wants to meet veterans works in the legal profession, feel free to contact Stu- dent Veterans of America President, Patricia Ligget for more information. The VLSC is al- ways accepting new clients and comradery abounds in the John Marshall veteran’s community. If they can’t help them, they’ll probably know someone who can.