Earlier this semester, a group of UT Law students and faculty volunteered their legal services for homeless veterans as part of Operation Stand Down, an event sponsored by the grassroots, non-profit organization Knoxville Area Veterans Stand Down.
The event was held September 26 at the National Guard Armory. In addition to legal service providers, the event brought together vocational assistance, barbers, and medical, dental, and other service providers to provide assistance to veterans in and around the Knoxville community.
More than twenty UT Pro Bono students and a handful of clinical students from the Homer A. Jones Wills Clinic and the Expungement Clinic rendered more than 150 hours of pro bono legal service to homeless veterans throughout the day. Additionally, professors Amy Hess and Barbara Johnson, the Knox County Public Defender’s Community Law Office, and Legal Aid of East Tennessee collaborated to offer legal advice.
“UT Pro Bono is privileged to be able to serve those who provided unfathomable service to the community, the nation, and the world,” said Brad Morgan, associate director of the Institute for Professional Leadership. “Through this experience, law students are able to better understand that those in the legal profession have the opportunity and ability to change lives for the better.”
Operation Stand Down is modeled after the “Stand Down” concept used during the Vietnam War to provide a safe retreat for units returning from combat operations. At secure base camp areas, troops were able to address their personal hygiene, get clean uniforms, enjoy warm meals, receive medical and dental care, mail and receive letters, and enjoy the camaraderie of friends in a safe environment. Stand Down afforded battle-weary soldiers the opportunity to renew their spirit, health, and overall sense of well-being.