Individual Care

Legal Support

Visit VetConnectNYC.org

The NYC Department of Veterans' Services (DVS) works with veterans looking for discharge upgrade assistance. DVS also partners with community organizations to connect veterans to free legal assistance and pro bono services that can help resolve legal matters, including eviction, discrimination complaints, debt, child custody, public assistance requests, and end-of-life planning.

Connect to legal support services by filling out the VetConnectNYC form and selecting "Legal Support" as your preferred service:


Request Services on VetConnectNYC


See below for a list of legal aid resources:

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DD-214

Accessing the benefits you've earned will be easier if you have your DD-214. To request a copy of your DD-214, you can contact the National Archives directly.

If you have any questions about or need assistance in locating your DD-214, please fill out the VetConnectNYC form and selects "Benefits Navigation" as your preferred service.

Discharge Upgrade Assistance

Discharge upgrade assistance is provided by the United States Department of Veteran Affairs (VA), the New York State Division of Veteran Services (NYS DVS), and the City Bar Justice Center's Veterans Assistance Project. See below for more information:

  • Veterans can apply for a discharge upgrade by using the VA's online tool. You have a strong case for a discharge upgrade if you can show your discharge was connected to one of the following:
    • Mental health conditions, (including PTSD)
    • Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)
    • Military Sexual Trauma (MST)
    • Sexual orientation (including under the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy)

The information you enter as part of your online application is confidential

  • New York State may be able to restore benefits to New York veterans who have an Other-Than-Honorable (OTH) discharge or a General Under Honorable Conditions discharge due to any of the following:
    • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
    • Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)
    • Military Sexual Trauma (MST)
    • Sexual Orientation
    • Gender Identity
    Veterans Benefits Advisors can prepare and file discharge upgrade applications free of charge to the Discharge Review Board or the Board for Corrections of Military Records for each branch of the military. To learn more visit the New York State Department of Veterans' Services website or contact inclusion@veterans.ny.gov.

Discrimination Complaint

As of 2017, service members and veterans are a protected class in New York City. If you feel you have been discriminated against based on your military status, you can file a complaint with the NYC Commission on Human Rights.

Identification

  • NYS State Identification offers qualified veterans with an honorable discharge a New York State driver's license, learner permit, or non-driver photo ID card with the word "Veteran" printed on the upper left hand of their photo document.
  • IDNYC is the free identification card for all New York City residents, which gives all of us the opportunity to show who we are-New Yorkers. As a government-issued photo identification card, IDNYC secures peace of mind and access to City services that come from having recognized identification. IDNYC benefits every city resident, including the most vulnerable communities-the homeless, youth, the elderly, undocumented immigrants, the formerly incarcerated, and others who may have difficulty obtaining other government-issued ID.

    IDNYC cardholders can access services and programs offered by the City as well as by businesses. IDNYC helps enhance public safety, by serving as a recognized ID for interacting with NYPD. It also helps New Yorkers gain access to all City buildings that provide services to the public and is accepted as a form of identification for accessing numerous City programs and services. IDNYC also provides a dynamic series of benefits to cardholders, including a free one-year membership at many of the City's leading museums, zoos, concert halls, and botanical gardens.

Pro Bono Services and Free Legal Advice

  • Legal Services Resources
    • Legal Services NYC Veterans Justice Project provides free civil legal services to veterans, services members, and their families. We help veterans avoid eviction, battle student loan debt, resolve child custody issues, obtain food stamps, social security, and other public benefits, as well as draft wills and Powers of Attorney.
    • The Veteran Advocacy Project provides free legal services to low-income veterans and their families. If you have legal problems with any of the following, they may be able to help:
      • Accessing VA health care and benefits
      • VA claims and overpayments
      • Military discharge upgrades
      • Housing Court
      • Housing vouchers and programs
      • Benefits (food stamps, cash assistance)
      • Felony criminal charges
      • Access to Veteran Treatment Courts
    • Mobilization for Justice’s (MFJ) mission is to achieve justice for all. MFJ prioritizes the needs of people who are low-income, disenfranchised, or have disabilities as they struggle to overcome the effects of social injustice and systemic racism. We provide the highest-quality free, direct civil legal assistance, conduct community education and build partnerships, engage in policy advocacy, and bring impact litigation. MFJ also promotes diversity, equity, and inclusion in our workplace, and understands the need to eliminate all racial disparities to achieve justice for all.
      • Contact information:
        • Phone: (212) 417-3700
        • Fax: (212) 417-3891
    • The Veterans Consortium Pro Bono Program is a leading national 501(c)(3) charity that has offered free legal representation to veterans, their families and survivors at the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims (CAVC) since 1992. In 2017, they began their Discharge Upgrade Program, which offers legal representation for veterans who received an other than honorable discharge. Their Women Veterans Legal Assistance Program began in 2020, as did their Veterans Naturalization Assistance Program. TVC also provides bi-weekly legal advice and referral clinics in DC, Maryland, and Virginia to veterans and their loved ones; one clinic caters specifically to women veterans and is staffed by women attorneys. Each of their programs are national and our clinics are local.
  • Legal Services for Senior Veterans
    Veterans, age 60 and older, can contact Volunteers of Legal Services for help with:
    • obtaining life planning documents that are essential to protecting their legal rights and health care decisions
    • Last Will and Testament
    • power of attorney
    • health care proxy
    • landlord-tenant issues
    • access to benefits
    • general civil legal advice and referrals
    To request legal services, call 347-521-5725 or email jpenkoff@volsprobono.org. Leave a message with your name, phone number, and the best days and times you can be reached.
  • Legal Services for Unemployed Veterans
    The Volunteers of Legal Service's Unemployed Workers Project provides free legal advice to low-wage and unemployed workers who are seeking government benefits. If you need support accessing benefits, call the Unemployed Workers Project hotline at 347-521-5720 or fill this VOLS Unemployed Workers Interest Form.