Chris Mondics, Inquirer Staff Writer
Posted: Thursday, January 15, 2015, 1:08 AM
A new program aimed at providing legal assistance to vulnerable elderly veterans has been launched by the SeniorLAW Center, a public interest group that focuses on the legal needs of the aged.
Karen Buck, the center’s executive director, said the program was developed to reach elderly veterans who typically are reluctant to ask for assistance.
“We had been getting a number of calls for assistance from senior veterans with really dramatic cases and dramatic issues,” she said. “We found there was quite a huge need, but our senior veterans were not reaching out for assistance.”
She said the center plans to have legal staff available to seniors one day a month at three senior centers in Philadelphia – Center at Journey’s Way, West Oak Lane Older Adult Center, and MLK Older Adult Center – and that its staff will also be reachable at its Center City offices at 1500 John F. Kennedy Boulevard throughout the week. The center can be reached at 215-988-1244.
There are no income limits for assistance, but Buck said the center tends to focus on clients with few, if any, financial resources.
Buck said senior veterans will receive legal advice on issues such as housing, family law, health care, veterans benefits, abuse, and scams targeted at older veterans, including misuse of power of attorney, identity theft, and other matters.
The case of a 90-year-old World War II veteran who was defrauded out of his home and other possessions helped to alert the senior law group to the problem, Buck said. In December, Melvin McIlwaine pleaded guilty to cheating the veteran, Ray White of South Philadelphia, and leaving him homeless. Lawyers from the center and the firm of Blank Rome have filed suit to return his possessions.