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MLSC seeks to help more veterans

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Posted on Feb 26 2021

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The Micronesian Legal Services Corp. and the Office of Veteran Affairs have teamed up to provide legal assistance for eligible veterans who’ve been affected by Typhoon Mangkhut and Super Typhoon Yutu, as well as disaster unemployment assistance, and more.

Among the services that MLSC will offer veterans are housing, probate, title to land, disaster assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency and Small Business Administration, housing assistance, denial of medical care, transportation assistance, disaster unemployment assistance, immigration, consumer issues, powers-of-attorney, guardianship, notary assistance, etc.

According to MLSC’s executive director Lee Pliscou, between 2019 and 2020, MLSC has closed four out of 13 veteran cases and currently has 10 cases open.

“Legal aid offices are gateways for veterans in need of civil legal assistance. Many veterans who served in combat confront legal problems such as foreclosures, evictions, consumer fraud, child custody issues, and wrongful denials of benefits. Our job is to ensure their civil rights are protected,” said Pliscou.

He said they have both income and resource eligibility requirements. “We can accept clients above 125% of the poverty guideline—up to 200%, under certain circumstances. …Our asset limit is low, just $8,000 per household, but not every asset is countable. We encourage everyone to apply for help,” said Pliscou.

MLSC currently follows the current U.S. poverty guidelines for Hawaii. To see if you are within the guidelines, check https://www.medicaidplanningassistance.org/federal-poverty-guidelines/.

According to Pliscou, 10% of all MLSC staff are veterans, including himself, which motivates them to help veterans who are having trouble accessing federal funds.

According to OVA executive director Stanley T. Iakopo, OVA acts as a conduit.

“Veterans have spent much of their lives protecting and serving the country and should be honored as a result. Unfortunately, there appears to be a disconnection between what veterans deserve to receive and what civilian life is really like for them,” said Iakopo.

He urged service members and their families to take advantage of the no-cost legal assistance services that MLSC provides.

Because of COVID-19 protocols, Pliscou encourages individuals to call their office at 234-7729/6243 or 235-0027 and request for a telephonic intake—an appointment through the phone—or to schedule an appointment.

Justine Nauta
Justine Nauta is Saipan Tribune's community and health reporter and has covered a wide range of news beats, including the Northern Marianas College and Commonwealth Health Care Corp. She's currently pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Rehabilitation and Human Services at NMC.

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