Stetson’s Veterans Law Institute partners with Bay Pines VA Healthcare System, Bay Area Legal Services and Gulfcoast Legal Services to assist veterans

Stetson University College of Law’s Veterans Law Institute celebrated the launch of a new medical-legal partnership on Feb. 15  with the Bay Pines Veterans Administration Healthcare System, Bay Area Legal Services and Gulfcoast Legal Services to help veterans. The program officially launched Feb. 1, with hundreds of veterans already signed up for assistance.

Dean Christopher Pietruszkiewicz signed an MOU at the VA Bay Pines.

Stetson Law Dean Christopher Pietruszkiewicz signed a new medical-legal partnership to help veterans on Feb. 15 at the VA at Bay Pines.

Qualifying low-income veterans in the area will have greater access to free civil legal services through the new partnership. Veterans can secure legal assistance for non-criminal offenses in a range of areas, from veterans benefits and Social Security disability benefits to family law matters, guardianship, and landlord-tenant disputes.

Stetson Law students work with VA social workers and legal aid attorneys Cherilyn Hansen J.D. ’16 and Julie Ann Embler J.D. ’14 to assist veterans with their civil legal needs twice weekly in an office at the VA Medical Center in Bay Pines. Hansen is an Equal Justice Works Fellow at Gulfcoast Legal Services who helps veterans with their VA disability benefits. Embler provides civil legal services to veterans through Bay Area Legal Services.

“This is really an historic day for Stetson and for our law students,” Stetson Law Dean Christopher Pietruszkiewicz remarked at the event.

“The law clinic that we’re able to have here because of the community support is going to expand in the future and really meet the needs of veterans and their families,” Suzanne M. Klinker, director of the Bay Pines VA Healthcare System, said of the new program.

The service to veterans is available every Tuesday and Wednesday from 9 a.m.-3:30 p.m. in the main medical center building 100, Room 1E-241 at the C.W. Bill Young VA Medical Center, 10000 Bay Pines Blvd., Bay Pines (Click here to access a campus map and driving directions)

More info is available on the website at The number for veterans to call is 727-398-9592.

“This partnership is a win-win for all involved,” said Trista Miller J.D. ’11, staff attorney with the Veterans Advocacy Clinic and Veteran’s Law Institute Pro Bono Initiative supervisor at Stetson who helped spearhead the new program. “The veterans have greater access to affordable legal services, law students are provided a rich environment to put their legal learning in to practice, and the capacity of our legal aid partners is expanded.”

To learn more about Stetson’s Veterans Law Institute, visit