Austin attorney Nikki Maples remembers the first time she walked into the Austin Department of Veterans Affairs clinic as part of a new program to give free legal services to veterans.
Maples came from a military family — her ex-husband had deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan — and she felt a powerful need to volunteer her time at the clinic. But she wasn’t prepared for the number of veterans lined up in the waiting room and down the hallway in dire need of legal help. Some were facing evictions; others were involved in child custody battles; still others had been wrongfully denied government benefits.
“At first it was overwhelming,” she said. “But at the end of the day I saw a lot of veterans smiling and I thought, ‘This is a really good thing.’ I’ll never forget that.”
Since that day in 2011, the Texas Lawyers for Texas Veterans program has spread throughout …