Law and Veterans' Issues: Policy Challenges and Best Practices

Winter 2013

Mini- Course: Law and Veterans’ Issues: Policy Challenges and Best Practices


Paul A. Dillon

Paul A. Dillon is a former Army Reserve 1stLieutenant, who was awarded two Bronze Star Medals for action during the Vietnam War. He has long been active in veterans’ affairs, and recently completed a research assignment for Crain’s Chicago Business, which served as the basis for the highly acclaimed “Veterans in the Workplace” Focus section that was published by Crain’s on November 8, 2012.  He has taught at both Governors State University and at the University of Illinois at Chicago, and is the founder and CEO of Dillon Consulting Services LLC, a U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and State of Illinois certified Service Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business.

Lydia Lazar

Lydia Lazar is an associate dean of the Harris School. Lydia served as the assistant dean for international law and policy development at Chicago-Kent College of Law, where she directed the graduate program for international lawyers and taught the Introduction to the American Legal System. A member of the Illinois Bar, Lydia practiced in the corporate and securities group of Sachnoff & Weaver (now Reed Smith LLC), prior to her academic career.

Course Details

Dates: Tuesdays, January 15, 22, 29 and February 5, 2013

Time: 6-8 pm

Location: Harris School, 1155 E. 60thStreet, Room 289B

RSVP for this mini-course >>
Please RSVP by Friday, January 11, 2013. You must be able to commit to all sessions.

Course Overview

The plight of our military personnel, who have left the service after returning from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, is “front page” news in the media every day. Often, stories of veterans suffering from post traumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injury, substance abuse, debilitating physical injuries, poverty, homelessness, unemployment lead the daily newscasts, and are the featured stories on media web sites. Less understood, and often left unreported, are the many positive skills and valuable experiences that veterans bring to both the workplace and the communities in which they live. Even less understood or publicized are the policy responses and myriad programs that governments, NGO’s, labor organizations, and the private sector have implemented to improve the lives of veterans returning not just from the most recent conflicts, but from all wars, including the Gulf War and the Vietnam War.

This mini-course will present the problems and promise of our veterans, and the policy responses and programs that have been implemented to meet the needs of those who have served our country. Students will have an opportunity to engage with experts on veterans’ mental health and substance abuse issues, the problem of homelessness and housing for veterans, legal issues relating to the veteran community (including veterans’ courts), and employment programs for veterans.

For each session, a team of students will have the opportunity to prepare a five-minute presentation and two page paper on each of the issues covered in the mini-course. The guest speakers will provide commentary on the students’ papers. At the culmination of the course, the papers will be combined and edited into a white paper analyzing the effectiveness of existing policies and programs, and providing recommendations for new policies that could have a significant, positive impact on veterans and their families. The white paper may be submitted for publication to those journals and media outlets that have an interest in veterans’ issues.

Course Topics and Speakers

I           Jan 15: Introduction to Veterans’ Issues—Past and Present

We will kick off the course with a showing of the Oscar nominated documentary “To Hell and Back” followed by a panel discussion with

  • Erica Borggren, Director, Illinois Dept of Veterans’ Affairs
  • Medal of Honor Recipient Allen Lynch, retired, former Chief of Veterans Rights Bureau of Illinois Attorney General

II         Jan 22: Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and Substance Abuse

  • Dr. Neelum Aggarwal, Associate Professor, Department of Neurology, Rush University
  • Don Cooke, Senior Vice President/PhilanthropyMcCormick Foundation
  • Dr. John Mundt, Jesse Brown VA Center
  • Alex Napiorkowski, Jesse Brown VA Center

III        Jan 29: Legal Issues and Veterans’ Courts

  • Hon. John P. Kirby, Chief, Veterans Court, Circuit Court of Cook County
  • Jaime Martinez, General Counsel, Illinois Dept of Veterans’ Affairs

IV        Feb 5: Homelessness/Housing and Employment Options for Veterans

  • Mark Angelini, Regional Vice President, Mercy Housing
  • Lore Baker, Executive Director Supportive Housing Providers Association
  • Elizabeth Belcaster, EMB Consultant,Co-founder Utility Workers Military Assistance Program
  • Steve Calk, Chairman and Chief Executive, National Bancorp Holdings

Course Resources

The syllabus and course resources will be posted on a CHALK site for all students.