New York Legal Assistance Group and Connecticut Veterans Legal Center

We have created a partnership to assess the impact of civil legal services on mental health and quality-of-life outcomes in veterans.

The Connecticut Veterans Legal Center and the New York Legal Assistance Group will receive $365,980 and the New York Legal Assistance Group will receive $330,700 to partner over a two-year period and assess the impact of civil legal services on mental health and quality-of-life outcomes in veterans.

Need

The Medical-Legal Partnership (MLP) model was developed in 1993 to recognize that veteran health and non-medical needs were linked, that physicians were not always effective advocates to address non-medical needs and that many non-medical needs require legal solutions. Medical-Legal Partnerships provide legal services within the medical setting and educate health care professionals on the legal issues that have a significant impact on a patient’s ability to receive health care services and improve their quality of life. A survey conducted by the Veterans Administration (VA) revealed that three of the top 10 veteran needs related to legal services. Few evaluations have been conducted and the MLP model has not been widely adopted in the VA setting so far. Therefore, there is a demonstrated need to implement and assess the effectiveness of such a model in order to provide evidence supporting best practices that may prompt policy change and innovations to healthcare strategies at VA hospitals nationwide.

Project

The Connecticut and New York VA Medical-Legal Partnership Study is the first of its kind to evaluate medical legal partnerships within a VA setting. This study will evaluate the impact of integrating free legal assistance on veterans’ mental health and quality of life in four VA hospitals, in West Haven (CT), Newington (CT), Bronx (NY) and Manhattan (NY). Through this project, comprehensive civil legal services will be provided to veterans who live with mental illness, homelessness, and/or substance abuse. The evaluation partner for this study will be the Yale School of Medicine, Department of Psychiatry.

Project Leaders

Randye Retkin (NYLAG), rretkin@nylag.org and Margaret Middleton (CVLC), mmiddleton@ctveteranslegal.org

Partners

  • Connecticut Veterans Legal Center
  • New York Legal Assistance Group
  • National Center for Medical-Legal Partnership
  • Yale School of Medicine, Department of Psychiatry