New V.A.L.O.R. Program Helps Service Members With All Legal Needs
Columbia, SC (WOLO)– South Carolina is known for being a great state for service men and women, but the Attorney General unveiled a new program to make it even better. Members of 10 different organizations came together to unveil V.A.L.O.R., which stands for Veterans, Active and reserve, Legal, Out-Reach. The program is a collaboration between the Attorney General’s Office, the South Carolina Bar, South Carolina Appleseed Legal Justice Center, Nelson Mullins law firm, the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the SC National Guard, the VFW, American Legion, DAV, and Marine Corps League. The new program meant to better connect service members with any legal help they need.
“Particularly, at Fort Jackson, you’ve got kids, who are 17, 18, 19 years old, that never have been away from home before, and they’re here. And they’re finding an apartment and the apartment manager might say “hey, we’re going to give you all of these concessions, you’re in the military” but then you get transferred out, and they say “well, now you’ve gotta pay all of that back.” Well, no, you really don’t. And so we’ve got the lawyers who will be able to take care of that too,” Cindy Coker said, the public services director with the S.C. Bar. Air Force brat Coker said she is honored to be doing something to help those like her father, who served for 20 years. Along with landlord-tenant issues, V.A.L.O.R. can help service members with debt relief, Medicare troubles, and the writing of wills and power of attorney documents.
“The Legal community that I’ve been a part of has long recognized that it has a moral obligation to provide service and support to those who defend our values and our freedoms, and all those things we treasure,” Attorney General Alan Wilson said. Wilson said the purpose of this program is to support the current programs offered to military members, fill in the gaps where the legal teams were missing, and minimize duplication efforts by getting service members to the organization they need the first time around. This is something Major General McCarty says has needed to happen for a long time.
“We can be more precise and make sure we get the word out and get a wider range of participants because we believe the synergy of all of us working together will be better than the individual efforts of those same individual groups that are working now,” army maj. general Roy Van McCarty said.
Coker said sometimes, military members need some legal direction, and this program will connect veterans with lawyers who will provide free or heavily discounted legal advice. That is something she is proud to do with the South Carolina Bar, along with the other groups.
“To be able to do something that gives back to those people that gave like they did, it’s really great to be able to do that,” Coker said.
The program kicks off on January 13th. The first free clinic will be in Rock Hill and then the next one will be in Florence in February. There will be many other clinics around the state, but dates and locations have yet to be announced.