National Survey of Legal Clinics Housed by the Department of Veterans Affairs to Inform Partnerships with Health and Community Services
- Journal of Health Care for the Poor and Underserved
- Johns Hopkins University Press
- Volume 31, Number 3, August 2020
- pp. 1440-1456
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Legal clinics housed by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) help veterans eliminate service access barriers. In this survey of 95 VA-housed legal clinics (70% of clinics), clients' legal problems were mainly estate planning, family, obtaining VA benefits, and housing (14–17% of clients). Most clinics rarely interacted with VA health care providers, did not have access to clients' VA health care records, and did not track clients' VA health care access (58–81% of clinics); 32% did not have dedicated and adequate space. Most clinic staff members were unpaid. Survey findings—that most VA-housed legal clinics do not interact with VA health care or directly address clients' mental health and substance use needs, and lack funds to serve fully all veterans seeking services—suggest that VA and community agencies should enact policies that expand and fund veterans' legal services and health system interactions to address health inequities and improve health outcomes.