BBA's Yellow Ribbon Volunteers Aid Coast Guard Personnel & Their Families

The Boston Bar Association is committed to serving military members, veterans and their families. One way we accomplish this goal is through the Yellow Ribbon Project, events organized by the U.S. military to support servicemen and servicewomen preparing for or returning from deployment. At these events, BBA volunteer lawyers present information to groups of service members and their families on a variety of legal issues. This past Saturday, BBA volunteers attended a Yellow Ribbon event, where 250 Coast Guard personnel and their families prepared for deployment.

Rather than tell you what happened, we reached out to two volunteers, Cameron Casey of Ropes & Gray and Paul Lannon of Holland & Knight to share their experiences. Here’s what they had to say:

Cameron
Casey
Paul
Lannon

1) Why did you volunteer your time to help military personnel and their families?
Paul: As a former US Army officer, I feel a personal obligation to support those serving in the military. More broadly, I think all citizens have a duty to find ways to support those who go in harm’s way to protect our nation and safeguard our liberties. One way lawyers can fulfill that duty is by providing legal advice to soldiers and their families.

2) What types of issues did you help with?
Cameron: Most of the estate planning questions last weekend involved Powers of Attorney, which are critically important documents for service members leaving home for extended periods. Those deploying were scheduled to sign Powers of Attorney prepared by JAG staff later this week and had questions about the purpose of the document and the pros and cons of a limited Power of Attorney versus a broader one.

Paul: When troops are deployed for long periods, a host of legal issues arise. My area of expertise is in employment law, and so I spoke with reservists about legal protections in their civilian workplaces under USERRA (Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act). At this past Yellow Ribbon event, there were many questions about wills, health care proxies, and giving others Power of Attorney over their assets.

3) Why is it important that the BBA maintains a presence at Yellow Ribbon events?
Paul: Our soldiers put everything on the line for our community, and our community needs to support them any way we can. Lawyers can support our troops through the BBA by providing legal advice and representation to soldiers and their families in need. The Yellow Ribbon events are an effective means of connecting soldiers to the lawyers who can help them.

4) How was the volunteer response?
Cameron: The BBA had a tremendous showing Saturday, with as many as ten volunteer lawyers on hand for all or part of the event. There were specialists in employment law, consumer protection, family law and estate planning, as well as a self-described country lawyer. In addition to providing this terrific resource to address service members' legal questions on the spot, the BBA has been instrumental in sponsoring a dedicated help line for service members who have more complicated questions or need to engage a lawyer for ongoing assistance. These two prongs of the Veterans' Initiative are an extremely powerful way to support military families.

For more information on how to get involved in the BBA’s Veterans' Initiatives, please contact Katie D’Angelo, Public Service Programs Coordinator, at kdangelo@bostonbar.org.

The Boston Bar Association would like to thank those who spend their Saturday offering assistance to Coast Guard personnel and their families.