UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.--The Penn State Law Veterans and Servicemembers Legal Clinic will begin offering free legal consultations to veterans and servicemembers at a Starbucks store located on North Atherton Street in State College as part of the company’s nationwide Military Mondays Program.
Starbucks has been sponsoring the Military Mondays Program in stores across the country since 2015. According to the company, the purpose of Military Mondays is to create a comfortable, accessible setting for the military and veteran community to receive legal advice and counsel.
The Penn State Law veterans clinic has expertise in appealing disability compensation, pension, and education benefits claims before the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Veterans and servicemembers may make appointments to discuss VA appeals or any civil law legal issue.
The first Military Monday will be held from 1:00 to 5:00 p.m. on Veterans Day, Nov. 11, at the Starbucks located at 2030 North Atherton Street.
“We look forward to working with Penn State Law and helping to support our veteran and military community,” said Haylee Black, manager of the North Atherton Starbucks.
Penn State Law students will counsel the attendees under the supervision of Leah Davis, clinic volunteer; Michele Vollmer, clinic director; and Todd Ciancarelli, part-time staff attorney. After providing counseling in one-hour appointments, the veterans clinic will transfer appropriate VA appeals to its caseload, and assist those with civil law legal issues or VA appeals it cannot accept to find other legal representation.
Military Mondays will be offered at the State College location on the second Monday of every month. To make an appointment, veterans and servicemembers should register on the clinic website or call the clinic at (814) 865-4290. Veterans and servicemembers who schedule an appointment may be contacted by a representative of the veterans clinic before the appointment to discuss important information to bring to the consultation. More information about the Military Mondays Program is provided on the website.
Professor Vollmer first learned of the Military Mondays Program--which was started by William & Mary Law School’s Lewis B. Puller, Jr. Veterans Benefits Clinic--when she joined the National Law School Veterans Clinic Consortium. She now serves as board membership chair for this non-profit organization that mentors and trains new law school veterans clinics, and prepares amici briefs on veterans law issues. William & Mary provided training and resources to help law school veterans clinics start Military Mondays programs with Starbucks.
Penn State Law students participated in other free legal clinics for veterans and servicemembers this fall including at the Centre County Grange Fair, the Lebanon VA, and the Merck & Co.’s Wills for Heroes day in Riverside. The latter two events were hosted by the Pennsylvania Bar Association’s Pro Bono Program.
Agneta Hendershot, a second-year student at Penn State Law in University Park, said her work at Wills for Heroes was a beneficial volunteer experience outside the classroom.
“I believe that the work is incredibly important and impactful. Each client’s will presented a unique situation, and I was able to ask follow-up questions and hypotheticals, and learned to listen and respond to obtain important information to prepare each will,” Agneta said.
Penn State Law students will meet veterans and servicemembers on Nov. 16 at the eighth annual Military Appreciation Game Tailgate before the Penn State Nittany Lions face the Indiana Hoosiers football team at Beaver Stadium. Prior to the game, Professor Vollmer will discuss ”Healing the Wounds of War by Training the Next Generation of Lawyers to Assist Veterans,” as a featured speaker at the Penn State Alumni Association’s Huddle with the Faculty series, which takes place at 9 a.m. at the Nittany Lion Inn.