OneJustice Blog

Bring life-changing legal help to Californians in need.

Category Archives: Help for Veterans

We accept, on faith, metamorphosis

Can our hearts hold the enormity of our losses?

Maybe veterans writing can help us find the way.

On Memorial Day, our nation pauses to honor all Americans who have died while in the military service.  OneJustice is privileged to work with and serve members of the military community through our Justice Bus trips that bring essential legal assistance to veterans living in rural and isolated areas of the state.   It is a deeply moving experience to serve those who have served our country and made it home.  And today – on Memorial Day – we try to comprehend the depth of the loss of those men and women who also served and did not come home.

But perhaps this loss simply is incomprehensible, unimaginable.  Maybe it is right and just that the emotions and impact are too large for our minds and hearts to hold.  And perhaps it is fitting that we are overwhelmed by attempting to express it – and our hearts broken open in the trying.

In honor of all those who have lost their lives serving our country, we offer the powerful words of veterans – who, in writing their wartime experiences, perhaps offer all of us some way of comprehending the enormity of these losses.

Saint Francis’s Satyr Butterfly

All creatures have the same source as we have.
Saint Francis of Assisi

The Saint Francis Satyr Butterfly

The Saint Francis Satyr Butterfly

A reclusive small brown butterfly,
white and yellow stigmatic suns

deployed along its wing ridges,
Saint Francis’s Satyr – christened

after the 12th century Italian soldier
and POW turned mystic –

secretes itself, miraculously,
in 10 by 10 kilometers

of the 251 square mile brash
of Fort Bragg – exact coordinates classified –

beyond which – we know this much –
it has gone undetected. Shy, endangered,

preferring anonymity, it hides
in high artillery impact domains –

life often chooses death –
the fires triggered by bombardment.

It wears Marsh camouflage,
resembles in its favored habitat –

blasted sedge and beaver ruins –
a tiny standard issue

Advanced Combat Helmet.
Parsed from the chrysalis,

rent too soon from its dream of living,
the satyr blazes in desperate glory

but three or four days,
in its imaginal stage,

then tenders its life in writ sacrifice.
Its gorgeous numbers dwindle.

The caterpillar has never been seen.
We accept, on faith, metamorphosis.

— Joseph Bathanti, Poet Laureate of North Carolina

When award-winning poet, Appalachian State University professor and advocate for literacy Joseph Bathanti was named North Carolina’s poet laureate in October 2012, he announced plans to work with veterans to share their stories through poetry. To celebrate Veterans Day in 2012, Bathanti wrote this poem for veterans, families of veterans and for everyone who honors America’s veterans for their patriotism, love of country, and willingness to serve and sacrifice for the common good.  We are honored to share it with the OneJustice network in observance of Memorial Day.

For more writing by veterans and members of the military community, we offer two additional sources:


Geoff has a commitment to service . . . first his country and now veterans in need

Happy National Volunteer Month!

As you know, volunteers are the heart and soul of the OneJustice network! 

Geoff Cleveland Volunteer

Geoff Cleveland offers today’s guest blog post as part of National Volunteer Month.

Volunteers travel hundreds of miles with the Justice Bus Project to bring life-changing legal assistance to Californians in isolated areas of the state.  The 100+ nonprofits we support also work with thousands of volunteers who commit their time, energy, and expertise to serving low-income Californians. Without a doubt, volunteers are the backbone of our state’s safety net for those facing legal barriers to basic life necessities.

At OneJustice, we celebrate our volunteers all the time, but National Volunteer Month gives us an extra special opportunity to recognize their work. During this month we will be featuring a series of guest blog posts with first-hand experiences from (you guessed it!) – some of our amazing volunteers!

We are particularly honored to lead off with a blog post by Geoffrey Cleveland, a first year student at Southwestern Law School.  Prior to attending law school he received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science from the University of California, Riverside.  After his undergraduate studies he enlisted in the United States Army where he served in the 75th Ranger Regiment.   Just last month he joined the OneJustice’s inaugural Justice Bus trip to bring legal assistance to veterans in the Inland Empire.  Thank you Geoff!


It was not long ago that I was in Afghanistan applying for law school and waiting for the elusive letters of acceptance.

Less than a month later, I was sitting in a classroom in Los Angeles learning about a “hairy hand” and its relevance to modern contract law.

Thank you to all the amazing volunteers from Southwestern Law School.

Geoff Cleveland and seven other law students from Southwestern Law School boarded the Justice Bus to deliver free legal help to veterans in the Inland Empire.

To say that it was a bit of a transition would be an understatement.  Although I miss my friends, I am grateful for this opportunity to start a new career in a new home and meet new wonderful people.  What I am most grateful for is that I have always had an amazing group of friends and family to support me through the difficult times.  I am truly a fortunate person.

Yet, for some the transition to civilian life is much more difficult.  Some are asked to end their service because of injuries sustained during combat or training events and then are left without the proper help.  Some end their service and build new lives and are never aware of the benefits they are entitled to.   For some the stress and experience of combat leaves lingering effects that make transitioning to civilian life near to impossible.  I knew even while I was waiting for those letters in Afghanistan that I wanted to somehow help my fellow veterans who were left in these difficult times.

When Cynthia Luna (OneJustice Equal Justice Works AmeriCorps Legal Fellow) came to my law school to discuss the Justice Bus trip to San Bernardino to set up a free legal clinic for veterans, I jumped at the chance.  I was excited to have the opportunity to help fellow veterans as well as gain effective legal experience.

When we arrived at the American Legion hall, where we would set up the legal clinic, I was nervous.  Besides mock interviews in class, I had never actually conducted a real client interview.  I kept picturing the horrible scenarios of unruly clients that I had heard about and asked myself if I was prepared.  I ran through the check list of to-do’s in my head over and over, almost like the check list I would run through before an Airborne jump in the Army.

Geoff and Ryan volunteered to help this couple at the Justice Bus clinic serving veterans in the Inland Empire.

It was smiles all around after Geoff and Ryan helped this couple at the Justice Bus clinic serving veterans in the Inland Empire.

Just like a jump, before I knew it I was out the door and I was sitting face to face with an elderly couple, my first real life clients!  Unlike the nightmare scenarios I had dredging through my head, these two were amazing.  My friend Ryan and I listened to their incredible story and helped them by working with an attorney at the clinic to provide them with the information they needed.

The couple were hoping to set up a meeting with an attorney, and we fortunate enough to be able to set up that meeting and have the majority of their needed paperwork filled out, another first for me.  Their kindness and appreciation blew me away, and I was not only relieved that I had survived my first interview, but appreciative that I had met such wonderful people.

Overall, that Friday was one of the most rewarding and enjoyable days I have had since moving to Los Angeles a few months ago.  I would recommend the experience of a Justice Bus trip to any law student or attorney for not just the educational aspect but also the relief of working for deserving and truly appreciative people.

Want to provide more legal services for veterans in need?  Give online today to our Veterans Legal Aid Fund!

Want to provide more legal services for veterans in need? Give online today to our Veterans Legal Aid Fund!

From everyone at OneJustice, a most heart-felt “Thank You!” to all of the amazing volunteers from Southwestern Law School!


Veterans supporting veterans

Veterans come together to bring life-changing legal help to veterans in need

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Last Friday, the Justice Bus Project traveled from downtown Los Angeles with eight volunteers from Southwestern Law School out to the Inland Empire to set up a free legal clinic for veterans. 

Done in partnership with Inland Counties Legal Services and Inland Empire Veterans Stand Down, the clinic brought veterans together to support their fellow veterans.  Two of the law student volunteers were veterans, as were three staff from Inland County Legal Services and two staff from Inland Empire Veterans Stand Down.  The clinic took place at the local American Legion Post, and so local veterans showed up to help staff the clinic.  And we are super proud that Monica Mar, our very own Senior Staff Attorney in charge of our SoCal office, is a veteran.

This Justice Bus trip brought life-changing legal assistance to 16 veterans, many of whom were facing multiple legal problems.  Thank you to all of the amazing volunteers and local partner organizations for this inspiring collaboration.   It is easy to give online.

The trip was made possible by support from the California Bar Foundation and many, many individual donors who support OneJustice’s Veterans Legal Aid Fund – including many donations made in honor of veterans and service members.  Check out our online Wall of Honor for the names of those in whose honor and memory this Justice Bus trip took place.  Want to be a part of future Justice Bus trips serving veterans?  It is easy to give online – and we will be so moved to add the names of veterans and service members in your life to the Wall of Honor.

You all inspire us every day.  Thank you for your support!

What are your hopes and dreams for justice in 2013?

Are you making a list of New Year’s resolutions?  What do you hope for in 2013?

What are your dreams for a better – and more just – world next year?  How would you like to partner with OneJustice to turn those dreams into reality?

We asked the OneJustice staff members to share their hopes and dreams for 2013, and you can see their ideas below. We also want to know what YOU think!  Where should we be focusing our time and energy?  What most excites you about being a part of the OneJustice network?  Let us know – comment on this post or on our facebook or LinkedIn pages!

You can donate online now!It’s also not too late to be part of making these dreams come true!  Donate now to any of our program areas to kick off increased access to legal help for Californians in need.

We wish you all the very best in the coming new year.


Pro Bono Team (R to L): Michael Winn, Senior Staff Attorney; Phoebe Kasdin, Program Associate; and Lauren Roberts, Equal Justice Works AmeriCorps Legal Fellow

Pro Bono Team (R to L): Michael Winn, Senior Staff Attorney; Phoebe Kasdin, Program Associate; and Lauren Roberts, Equal Justice Works AmeriCorps Legal Fellow

More Services for Veterans!

Our Pro Bono Support Team based in the San Francisco office hopes that the early January 2013 Justice Bus Trip to far northern California will serve up to 400 veterans who are members of the Yurok Tribe.  They also hope to bring legal help to 600 additional veterans living in isolated areas of the state throughout the year!

Make their wish come true by donating to the Veterans Legal Aid Fund!


SoCal Pro Bono Team (R to L): Monica Mar, Senior Staff Attorney and Cynthia Luna, Equal Justice Works AmeriCorps Attorney

SoCal Pro Bono Team (R to L): Monica Mar, Senior Staff Attorney and Cynthia Luna, Equal Justice Works AmeriCorps Legal Fellow

More Justice Bus Trips Serving Children and Youth!

Our Pro Bono Support team working out of the LA office is dreaming of bringing more legal help on special education issues to 50 children with disabilities in the Lancaster and Antelope Valley areas – and to spread that assistance into other isolated areas of Southern California.

Donations to the Children’s Legal Aid Fund will turn their dreams into reality!


Strengthen the Network team (R to L): Linda Kim, Deputy Director; Stephen Downey, Program Associate, and Thieu Do, Program Coordinator

Strengthen the Network team (R to L): Linda Kim, Deputy Director; Stephen Downey, Program Associate, and Thieu Do, Program Coordinator

New Skills for Seniors Programs!

One of our teams working to Strengthen the OneJustice Network has visions of bringing vital assistance in nonprofit management and operations to 10 nonprofit legal organizations serving seniors.  This support will expand their leadership, management, governance and outreach capacity to enable them to serve many more low-income seniors during 2013.

You can share in that vision with a kind gift to the Seniors Legal Aid Fund today!


Fundraising Support Team (R to L):  Natasha Ong, Development Associate; Julia Wilson, Executive Director; and Renae Getlin, Executive Assistant

Fundraising Support Team (R to L): Natasha Ong, Development Associate; Julia Wilson, Executive Director; and Renae Getlin, Executive Assistant

New Fundraising Strategies for Legal Services Nonprofits!

Another Strengthen the Network team plans to support the leaders of nonprofit legal organizations in increasing their fundraising and communications skills throughout 2013.  We know that better fundraising skills will allow their organizations to survive and thrive in this increasingly complex and competitive nonprofit sector.

Your kind gift will support the entire statewide network of over 100 nonprofit legal organizations – donate today!  Thank you!


Justice: the perfect gift.  Donate now to bring justice to over 270,000 Californians in 2013.

Justice: the perfect gift. Donate now to bring justice to over 270,000 Californians in 2013.

We make a life by what we give…….Happy #GivingTuesday!

A creative way we can all take a little U-turn back to giving thanks…..and giving… the middle of these days so focused on getting.

With two teenaged daughters in my house, the last several days were pretty focused on getting things!  Black Friday and Cyber Monday fascinated my daughters, who were appalled that our family didn’t have big plans for tracking down the deals.  Instead, we focused on shopping small on Small Business Saturday (see OneJustice’s last blog post), and today — Tuesday November 27 — we are fired up for #GivingTuesday, a creative new way to remind us all to give back in this season of giving thanks.

OneJustice is a proud partner in the first annual #GivingTuesday, the day that also marks the official opening day of the giving season.  We’re joining almost 2,000 nonprofits and corporations around the country to celebrate the work of nonprofits in our society – with the goal of driving donations of time, money, or services to charities with the same enthusiasm that shoppers have on Black Friday.

It is a beautifully simple idea, and one that calls on ideals and values that are at the core of American society.  First, find a way to give back – through your local school, faith-based organization, charity – maybe even through OneJustice!  Then tell others in your network about what you did – and why it matters.  #GivingTuesday is about reminding all of us that we are a generous people – with our time, our energy, and with our financial support.

How are you called to participate in acts of giving today, the first-ever #GivingTNovember 27, #GivingTuesdayuesday?

One way to celebrate #GivingTuesday is to Give the Gift of Justice to veterans facing legal barriers to benefits and medical care, vulnerable seniors living in rural and isolated areas of the state, and low-income children who need legal help to access new immigration programs or educational services.  Donate today to our Veterans, Seniors, or Children’s Legal Aid Funds, and your donation will be matched dollar-for-dollar by a generous group of donors who are also exercising their generosity today as part of #GivingTuesday!

And then let’s all help spread the word!  Then take a picture of yourself with a piece of paper proudly saying that you “Gave the Gift of Justice” on “#GivingTuesday” and post it to the #GivingTuesday facebook page and also the OneJustice facebook page.

However you decide to give back to your community, we thank you! The world is a better place because of your generosity.  We look forward to celebrating #GivingTuesday with you every year.

How will you honor those who served our country? How about giving the gift of justice?

I was shocked to learn recently that there are 400 rural veterans facing legal barriers to benefits and medical care they need – and that they are over 300 miles from the closest nonprofit legal organization that can help!

To be honest, I was always a little bit vague about what exactly we’reHow do we celebrate Veterans Day? supposed to do on Veterans Day.  I know it is a day to honor all the brave women and men who have served our country in the armed services – but it was never more specific than that for me.  Until now.

Several weeks ago, the OneJustice Pro Bono Team received a call from Chief Judge Abby Abinanti of the Yurok Tribal Court – with some shocking news and a request for help.  She was calling because there are around 400 members of the tribe who are also U.S. veterans who are facing legal barriers to critically important benefits and medical care.  And they are over 300 miles – 7 hours by car – from the closest legal nonprofit organization that can help them.

So – clearly thaOneJustice expands legal help for veteranst calls for a Justice Bus response!  Of course there were some possible obstacles – but we quickly solved them.   Yes, it will be the farthest we’ve ever taken the Justice Bus Project- but University of San Francisco Law School readily agreed to have their students travel the distance to help.  Never mind that we need a new nonprofit partner – we had already been talking to Swords to Plowshares about working together to do Justice Bus trips to serve veterans in rural and isolated parts of Northern California.

Now the only remaining barrier to getting on the road should also be easy to overcome – the funding to cover the costs of the long bus ride and accommodations for the student volunteers willing to donate their time and energy to deliver free legal clinics in three locations – Eureka, Klamath, and Hoopa – over two days.

The trip will take $10,000.  Two generous donors each already donated $2,500 because they were so moved by the story of these veterans.  This means we have just $5,000 to go and we will be able to gear up some mobile justice.

So, we need YOUR HELP.  If 500 people in the OneJustice network each give just $10 on Veterans Day, we’ll be able to get the bus on the road.  We can do this through collective action – we can stretch the legal safety net in our state to include these veterans who have asked for our help.

It’s easy to give online (just click HERE).  Just make your donation and designate the Veterans Legal Aid Fund.  Or download a donation form HERE and send in a check.  Literally every dollar gets us closer to making this trip a reality.  If you give in honor of a veteran or service member in your life, we will list their name on our Wall of Honor for one year and read their name aloud as the Justice Bus starts its trip north in early January 2013.

So – this Veterans Day I will be carrying the knowledge of these 400 Yurok veterans in need in my heart.  It is an incredible honor to be invited into their lives to provide access to the legal help they need – and with that honor comes the responsibility to respond.  They already served for us.  Now the time has come when we can serve them.

My grandfather served 5 years in the army, including 26 months in New Guinea during WWII

My grandfather, Charles Ward Henson II, with his children, my father and aunt.

My grandfather, who passed away before I was born, served for 5 years in the army – including 26 months in New Guinea during World War II.  This Sunday, at 11am, I will proudly make my own personal donation in his name to make this trip possible.  I hope you will join me in giving the gift of justice to these veterans!

Thank you for your support – we are honored by your charitable investment in our work!

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