They committed to serving the country and we are committed to serving them.
Attorney Renato Izquieto’s first veteran client, Ralph (name changed), was a Marine ready to re-gain custody of his two children. Suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), Ralph had lost custody of his two children to his in-laws after they found out that he had hidden a weapon he brought back from his deployment in his house. They called the police and since Ralph’s spouse was out of the picture, his in-laws took custody of the children.
Ralph was referred to LASOC-CLS and Renato for legal assistance through the Orange County Veterans Treatment Court, one of the nine courts in the County’s Collaborative Courts system. For veterans to be eligible for Veterans Treatment Court, they must have been convicted of a criminal offense and sentenced to county jail or state prison. The veteran must also attest that he or she committed the offense because of sexual trauma, traumatic brain injury, PTSD, substance abuse, and/or mental health problems stemming from service in the United States military.
Ralph met the rigorous requirements of the Veterans Treatment Court program and entered an 18-month intensive treatment program. As part of the program, he was matched up with a mentor (also a veteran) to guide and support him. Working with his mentor, Ralph sought and received the help he needed to stabilize his life, including mental health services to address his PTSD.
Once he got his life on track and was ready to re-gain custody of his children, the Veterans Treatment Court referred him to Renato for representation. It took two years for the case to go to trial but Ralph stuck with it and in the end the court granted him custody. The family was reunited.
Ralph’s case was the beginning of the legal work we have been committed to doing in service of our community’s low-income veterans. Renato continues to receive referrals through the Veterans Treatment Court program and has helped clients in the areas of family law, consumer law, landlord/tenant law, and VA benefits. Besides the referrals, we also take on cases from veterans seeking help through our hotline. Last year we helped over 1,000 veterans with their legal issues.
Further, as a result of his work with veterans through the Collaborative Courts, Renato has immersed himself in ensuring their access to the justice system on a policy level. He is a member of the American Bar Association’s (ABA) Commission for Homeless and Poverty of which there is a sub-commission for Veterans Legal Service. Renato was selected by ABA President Linda Klein to participate on a two-year special commission (2017-18) to look at access to legal services for veterans on the national level. He has also been on the forefront of the creation of Medical Legal Partnerships (MLP) within the VA and is currently working in collaboration to set-up a MLP in in the State of Wyoming.
Locally, Renato serves on the Orange County Bar Association’s Committee for Veterans Legal Service. As LASOC-CLS expands its pro bono program with the hiring of as its first director of pro bono, Renato sees the partnership with private attorneys on veterans’ issues as an opportunity and avenue to serve their legal needs in an even greater way.
If you are a low-income veteran living in Orange County or southeast Los Angeles County who needs legal help, or you know a veteran here who needs this help, please call our Hotline at 800-571-5200.