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  • Writer's pictureLucas Nava

MU law students help veterans get back $10 million in benefits initially denied

The following was edited by Columbia Missourian Higher Education editor Gordon Dickson. Click on the link to reach the original article.

An organization that helps veterans appeal disability benefits denied by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs is celebrating a milestone moment in its history.

The group, known as the University of Missouri School of Law Veterans Clinic, has surpassed the $10 million mark, in terms of the amount of money obtained for its clients.

“We have passionate law students who are motivated to run down the evidence and get the necessary medical opinions that connect the dots,” Angela Drake, director of the Veterans Clinic, said in a news release. “We put the puzzle together so it’s hard for claims to be denied.”

Opening its doors in 2014, the clinic is run by MU law students supervised by lawyers focused on veteran law. One such student, Carter Templeton, initially joined the clinic for a class, then stayed on for the opportunity for hands-on experience and the ability to work for a good cause.

“I’m learning veterans law while also operating in a law firm-like atmosphere,” Templeton said. “It’s instilling in a lot of future lawyers the importance of pro bono work and the value of helping out while still at Mizzou.”

One such veteran whom the MU Law Veterans Clinic helps is Phillip Bacon, a retired Army reservist and member of the Missouri National Guard. Following a medical discharge after eight years of service, he was expecting to receive only a portion of the benefits that he was eligible for.

At the advice of a friend, Bacon contacted the clinic and was able to initially receive 70% of his promised benefits. He eventually received 100% after subsequent efforts.

“My experience with them has been phenomenal,” Bacon said. “I went to the Veterans Clinic primarily because of a service-related injury that really showed itself in recent years. I knew I needed them in my corner to explain to the VA how this happened.”

Bacon is currently seeking back-benefits, which he intends to donate to the MU Law Veterans Clinic.

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