Nicholas Ramos and the WLVA
Nicholas Ramos '18L
What is the purpose of the Washington and Lee Veterans' Advocates (WVLA)?
WLVA's mission is to provide a forum of discussion and support for those affiliated with the U.S. Armed Forces, Coast Guard, or those interested in military veterans' issues, national security strategy, or defense policy. WLVA is dedicated to advocating for veterans and increasing awareness of issues related to veterans, national security strategy, or defense policy.
WLVA fulfills its mission in five ways. First, WLVA facilitates the exchange of information about veterans' benefits and sponsors speakers on issues of concern to the veteran and military communities. Second, WLVA encourages public interest in, and pro bono work on, issues related to the welfare and interests of military personnel and veterans. Third, WLVA identifies members of the W&L University community who can serve as information resources for anyone conducting research on national security policy, international law, or defense policy issues, and provides assistance to prospective members of the armed services. Fourth, WLVA provides support to admissions staff by encouraging military veterans and active-duty personnel to both apply for admission to W&L University and matriculate, and by serving as an information resource for such prospective students. Finally, WLVA promotes social interaction between the diverse population of military and Coast Guard veterans, active-duty, National Guard, and Reserve personnel within W&L Law, W&L University, VMI and the greater Lexington community.
What activities do you have planned for this year?
In October, WLVA will host Arnold Haiman as a guest speaker. Mr. Haiman is a world-class speaker having lectured internationally on topics including ethical decision-making, anti-corruption initiatives, constitutional law, judicial process, and administrative law. As United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Deputy General Counsel and Designated Agency Ethics Official, Mr. Haiman was in charge of, and personally instructed rank-and-file employees as well as senior managers here and abroad, including military personnel, on Ethics, EEO, and Diversity programs. The topic for our lecture will be the "Government as a Client." The discussion will involve legal ethics, determining who the client is, and understanding what is illegal compared to what is ill-advised.
In November, WLVA will host a Military Movie Night at Hulls Drive-In movie theater. WLVA coordinated a screening of "Black Hawk Down." While admission is free for everyone, charitable donations are encouraged. 100% of donations received at the gate will go to the Special Operations Warrior Fund (SOWF). The SOWF funds a scholarship program for children who lost a parent that served in special operations; provides ongoing support services to families whose children are receiving scholarships; and provides immediate financial assistance to those service-members who are severely wounded while serving in special operations. In addition, the SOWF received a four-star rating by Charity Navigator and is a 2015 Top-Rated Nonprofit. WLVA has not yet finalized plans for the spring semester. But, WLVA will likely host a few guest speakers that can speak about incorporating veteran-related pro bono work into a full time legal practice. Guest speakers will likely be attorneys who lead the veteran-related pro bono practices for their respective law firms and/or representatives from the Department of Veterans Services.
How will WLVA enhance your and other veterans' law school experience?
Lawyers have the power to effect real change for the veteran community. My hope is that WLVA will educate law students about the needs of the veteran community and the means through which students can provide legal support to veterans when they become lawyers. In this way, WLVA provides supplemental education that law students do not otherwise gain through the W&L Law curriculum. Additionally, WLVA provides a support network for those of us that are passionate about military service and supporting those who have served.
How can someone get involved in WLVA?
Membership is open to anyone with an interest in matters affecting military veterans without regard to status as a current service member or military veteran. We have many members who did not personally serve in the military. With that being said, getting involved is really easy. Feel free to e-mail myself or anyone else on the Executive Board about your interest and we can put you on the roster! You can also check us out on social media: https://twitter.com/WLVeterans; https://www.facebook.com/WLVeteransAdvocates/; https://www.linkedin.com/groups/8552804.
What should a prospective law student know about being a veteran at W&L Law?
Recently, the Assistant Dean for the Office of Career Strategy sent me an article titled 5 Strengths Military-Connected Students Bring to Your Campus (thanks Dean Jarrett). The article highlighted several strengths that veterans bring to university classrooms. These strengths include: the ability to withstand an intense educational experience; diversity of perspectives; resilience and problem-solving skills; mission focus; and service-oriented outlook. At W&L Law, veterans have the opportunity to utilize all of these strengths in ways that benefit themselves and their colleagues. For example, because of the small class sizes at W&L Law, veterans get to know their classmates really well. Veterans quickly emerge as leaders within the student body because of their unique life experiences. In addition, because of W&L's small class sizes, veterans get many opportunities to express their diverse perspectives in the classroom. This exchange enhances the educational experience for everyone in the classroom. Also, W&L Law is a very important part of the greater University and Lexington communities. Veterans have more opportunities than they have time to get involved in service-related activities either at the Law School or in Lexington. Overall, W&L Law provides a special environment in which veterans can accentuate their strengths. This environment leads to veterans doing very well in school and in their job searches.