Governance & Membership
President's Message - November 2023
Our Way to Thank Veterans for Their Service
By Brian Hermanson
Nov. 11 is the day we celebrate Veterans Day in the United States. Not a day should go by that we forget the incredible sacrifices members of our military have endured to protect our freedoms. Each one of us needs to take every opportunity to thank them for their service. However, it appears that just thanking these outstanding individuals does little to help them with some of the suffering they face.
Those veterans who did so much for us often find great difficulty, both while in the service and in the years that follow. Low pay and benefits, along with both physical and mental challenges, leave many of our finest homeless or without sufficient funding to provide for their needs. One should ask themselves, “What can I do to help these people who have done so much for me?”
Well, there is much we can do as a bar association to help these heroes. The Oklahoma Lawyers for America’s Heroes Program was launched on Veterans Day in 2010. It was designed to provide assistance and legal advice to those who have honorably served our country and are unable to hire an attorney. The program provides qualifying veterans with lawyers to get the legal assistance they so desperately need. For the past 13 years, this program has been providing attorneys who were willing to go that extra mile for those individuals who have done so much for each of us.
But there is a problem. Lawyers have not been signing up to volunteer their time. The needs of veterans are going unanswered because not enough of us have been stepping forward to help. These people who suffered so much to help us can’t get lawyers to help them.
I know that lawyers volunteer every day to provide help to all types of worthy causes. I believe lawyers, as a group, are the best volunteer force in the state. So why do we have this unmet need? Why don’t we have a long list of people willing to come forward and accept these cases? I can only assume it is because many of us are unaware of the need that is out there. Many of us are so busy living our lives that we have missed the need of those who were willing to give everything to protect us.
Now you know. You know the need is there for you to raise your hand and agree to take a case every once in a while to help these veterans. You know the people who have protected our country now need us to help protect them. We now know we can do in the comfort of our offices what they did around the world and sometimes in life-threatening venues.
Visit www.okbarheroes.org to sign up to volunteer. Don’t hesitate. To hesitate is to fail to do what we know we each should do. Call or email and say “yes” to those who said “yes” for each of us. By saying yes, you are telling these great heroes that you are here. You are here to say, “Thank you for your service.” You are here to show the love and admiration we have for the sacrifices they have suffered through. You are there to do the right thing right now. To be a big help, you only need to provide help every now and then. While it might not seem like a lot to you, it may be life-changing for that veteran.
For the life-changing things they have done for us, certainly, we can take time to help them now. Please help!
Brian Hermanson serves as district attorney for the 8th District of Oklahoma.
Originally published in the Oklahoma Bar Journal – OBJ 94 Vol 9 (November 2023).
Statements or opinions expressed in the Oklahoma Bar Journal are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the Oklahoma Bar Association, its officers, Board of Governors, Board of Editors or staff.