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BBA Webinar: Representing Veterans in Discharge Upgrades: Effectively Advocating for Veterans with Mental Health Conditions

Friday, May 15, 2020 12:00 PM to 1:30 PM
- Online Only, Boston, MA


The BBA presents live webinars via Zoom. Access to this program is free, included as part of your member benefit. Please register for this program through your BBA account to receive the Zoom webinar link.  In order to receive the Zoom webinar link, you must register at least two hours before the start time of the program.


Many of the men and women who served in the U.S. armed forces are cut off from veterans’ services and benefits because they were given a less-than-honorable discharge. They may have served in combat or have suffered physical or mental wounds, but are nevertheless unable to access much-needed treatment and support from federal and state veterans agencies because of their discharge status. In many cases, the origin of their need for support—for example, service-related post-traumatic stress disorder or traumatic brain injury—also contributed to the conduct that led to their less-than-honorable discharges. New laws and guidance have liberalized the standards for upgrading discharges based on in-service mental health conditions, but certain skills and knowledge are critical to effectively advocating for a veteran with PTSD, TBI, or another mental health condition.

This program offers in-depth training about veterans who have mental health conditions related to their service. A former Army psychiatrist with expertise in forensic evaluations and a psychologist with expertise in veterans and trauma disorders will present basic information about mental health disorders and how they are treated, how the military addresses mental health, best practices for working with mental health experts, and tips for how to work with and interview a client who has experienced trauma.  The program will also offer updates on discharge upgrade law. The information will benefit both attorneys new to discharge upgrade practice and attorneys with some prior experience.

This program builds upon prior discharge upgrade pro bono trainings. Attorneys who did not attend the prior trainings are welcome to attend this training. Please email Chane Vanes at for access to videos and resources from those trainings. Attorneys who are interested in volunteering to represent a veteran in a discharge upgrade with the Veterans Justice Pro Bono Partnership, a project of the Veterans Legal Clinic at the Legal Services Center of Harvard Law School, should contact Dana Montalto at


BBA Webinars are supported by the Joan B. DiCola Fund. The fund was founded in 2015 in memory of Joan B. DiCola to support the programs and initiatives that foster the education and professional development of lawyers and law students. To support this fund contact Erica Southerland at


  • Dana Montalto
    • Legal Services Center of Harvard Law School
  • Sandra Dixon Psy.D
  • Nathan Hartvigsen M.D.
    • Home Base Program



Ariana Gebauer


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