Each year, CVLC has hundreds of volunteer attorneys to thank for helping us provide nationally recognized, life-changing veteran advocacy. One person on that list is Francis “Fran” Brady, a retired attorney from Murtha Cullina, LLC.
We spoke to Attorney Brady about his years of experience as a volunteer attorney with CVLC and what draws him back time and time again to serve veterans even now in his retirement.
Volunteering in Retirement: “It is a beacon of purpose.”
“I recommend that retired attorneys volunteer. Take on a case and work closely with CVLC,” Attorney Brady said. “After you’re done, you will have a significant feeling of accomplishment. It is not a burden on your retirement. It is a beacon of purpose.” And CVLC’s attorneys truly enjoy the connection as well. CVLC’s Deputy Director, Cindy Johnson said that she “loves working with Fran on veteran cases. I have learned a lot from him and other pro bono attorneys about effective advocacy. It is an honor to exchange ideas with Connecticut’s great legal minds.”
He told us about two particularly meaningful cases he recalls. Both veteran clients suffered physical and mental health related injuries from their service. Both veterans spent significant time in prison and one struggled with drug addiction. After decades of struggling without help, CVLC helped them apply for VA benefits to stabilize their lives. After carefully building a case for each veteran, Attorney Brady and CVLC successfully helped the veterans access healthcare benefits and service-connected disability income benefits.
Attorney Brady encourages other attorneys to volunteer if they can. “You don’t have to know anything about the VA protocols to get started,” he said. “”What you have is your problem solving experience as an attorney.”
Working with CVLC Staff: “Every issue I’ve had, they have helped solve.”
CVLC handles many types of cases beyond VA Benefits including discharge upgrades, housing, and family matters. With years of experience advocating for veterans, CVLC staff can provide resources and guidance including in-depth training, legal manuals, and a briefing bank.
“CVLC staff have been terrific. Every issue I’ve had, they have helped solve,” Attorney Brady said. “They are never baffled by a question and are extraordinarily positive. CVLC is delighted to hear from you – delighted to help and support your mission because your mission is their mission. They will go out of their way to help make sure the cases are well-prepared as they can be when they are handed to you. They are great people to work with in support of a joint mission.”
Making a Difference: “It was clear something had to be done.”
Attorney Brady knows that some attorneys may shy away from contributing because they are not veterans themselves. However, he argues that even if you did not serve, you can make a significant difference.
Some may recall the Walter Reed Army Medical Center (WRAMC) neglect scandal of the 2000s. Though thought to be one of the finest medical facilities in the country, Attorney Brady remembers news breaking of the extremely poor and unacceptable treatment veterans received at this facility. He was greatly troubled by it: “It was clear that something had to be done continuously to ensure that injured veterans are protected.” He knew then he wanted to help and he soon got the chance.
In 2009, CVLC co-founders, attorneys Margaret Middleton and the late Howard Udell, were trying to meet the growing legal needs of over a hundred veterans from what we now lovingly refer to as the broom closet where it all began at the Errera Community Care Center (ECCC).
CVLC needed volunteers and financial support. Attorney Bill Prout, a Vietnam Veteran himself and recent President of the Connecticut Bar Association (CBA), knew the CBA could provide both. At the time, Attorney Brady was the incoming President. Together, they invited CBA members to attend a free certification training to represent veterans before the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). The response was overwhelming; nearly 400 attorneys responded to the call. The pro bono support didn’t stop there. CBA members raised $75,000 through individual member donations for CVLC. That was more than enough to give us a start.
CVLC and the Connecticut Bar Association: “My principle contribution…”
In 2011, at CVLC’s annual Saluting Service fundraiser, Attorney Brady received the Veterans Justice Award for his involvement in connecting the CBA Pro Bono Network with CVLC. “My principle contribution was being able to link the to CVLC and provide a pipeline of volunteer attorneys,” he said. The CBA continues to be a strong supporter of CVLC and veterans to this day.
CVLC wants to extend a sincere thank you to Attorney Brady for years of dedication and support. Thank you for all that you’ve done for CVLC and our veterans!
The Importance of Our Pro Bono Network
CVLC continues to rely on our dedicated pro bono network to provide legal services to the many Connecticut veterans struggling today. We expect housing issues and evictions to spike this summer due financial hardship from the economic downturn and the impending end of the moratorium on evictions.
We want to be ready to help veterans facing evictions. In preparation, we are re-engaging pro bono attorneys who are ready and willing to assist our veterans with eviction matters once the courts reopen. Please reach out to our Pro Bono Manager, Attorney Ashleigh Backman (firstname.lastname@example.org). Thank you!