2013 Equal Justice Works Fellow, John Paul Cimino

John Paul Cimino

City, State: Williamsburg, Virginia
Issue area: Veterans' Rights
Sponsors: Northrup Grumman; Covington & Burling LLP

The Project

John Paul, a veteran of the United States Army, established a model consortium of higher education institutions to aid veterans and active duty troops with medical and disability issues, reemployment, and reintegration.

The Inspiration

Need Addressed By Project: 
Veterans face unique challenges as they reenter the civilian world. These challenges are compounded by the wounds that many veterans bear, both inside and out, after returning from service in combat. Too many veterans return to civilian life to face unemployment, homelessness, and involvement in the criminal justice system. While benefits and services are available to help them cope with disability and the turmoil of returning to civilian life, too many veterans fall through the cracks. Veterans’ benefits and services are often poorly advertised, difficult to obtain, and delayed for long periods of time because of the overloaded system for determining eligibility.
Fellowship Highlights: 
During his Fellowship, John Paul has:
• Developed a Veterans Initiative Program in the Federal District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia to assist veterans charged with petty offenses obtain the treatment, services, and benefits that they need to avoid future involvement in the criminal justice system
• Promoted the development of veterans benefits clinics at law schools across the United States through conference presentations, co-authoring written material on the topic, and assisting in the creation of a veterans clinic consortium to support the work of existing and newly established veterans clinics
• Educated attorneys, law students, and mental health professionals about the needs of military veterans in Virginia and the benefits and services available to meet those needs
• Represented veterans in claims for disability compensation benefits and discharge upgrades
Where are they now?: 
Now that the Fellowship is complete, John Paul will advocate for policies that promote independence, autonomy, and inclusion of people with disabilities in Virginia as a Senior Policy Analyst at the Virginia Board for People with Disabilities.

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