Firm Obtains Appeal Victory Expanding Benefits for Disabled Iraq War Veteran

A disabled Iraq war veteran will soon receive expanded government benefits thanks to a four-year effort by Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati that resulted in a favorable ruling by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

In late 2018, Judge Michelle L. Kane of the VA's Board of Veterans' Appeals granted a disability ratings increase to Edgar E., a decorated Iraq war veteran. The ratings change means that Edgar's children will have expanded opportunities to attend school, and other additional benefits for Edgar and his family.

Edgar served in the United States Army, including two tours in Iraq during the height of Operation Iraqi Freedom. For his distinguished service, Edgar received numerous awards, including an Army Commendation Medal, an Army Achievement Medal, an Iraq Campaign Medal with two Campaign Stars, a Noncommissioned Officer Professional Development Ribbon, and an Army Good Conduct Medal. Further, because of Edgar's exemplary service and dedication, he was promoted from Private to Staff Sergeant on an accelerated timeline.

During the course of his service in Iraq, Edgar was rendered disabled with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Edgar returned home to the United States and eventually found himself homeless, unemployed, suffering from familial discord, and living on the street. Edgar sought out assistance from Swords to Plowshares, a San Francisco veterans' services non-profit organization, which provided him with temporary housing and connected him with volunteer attorneys from WSGR.

Against long odds, Edgar turned his life around. Currently, he is continuing his education and studying to be a career counselor in homage to those who have helped him, and out of a desire to help other veterans. He now lives in stable housing in San Francisco and is receiving the medical care he needs.

"At first I was completely overwhelmed and confused by the VA's process, but thanks to the help I received from Swords to Plowshares and WSGR, we were able to navigate the system" said Edgar. "I want to thank WSGR's attorneys for their tireless assistance and tenacity, which made the difference in breaking through and obtaining the disability ratings increase I knew I deserved."

Maureen Siedor, Pro Bono Manager and Staff Attorney at Swords to Plowshares said: "This has been a hard-fought, well-deserved victory for Edgar and WSGR. Andrew has worked tirelessly for years on Edgar's behalf and the outcome is proof of how attorneys make a difference for vulnerable veterans navigating the VA's complex benefits system. At Swords to Plowshares, we meet with thousands of veterans like Edgar every year, and we wouldn't be able to provide them with legal help needed to obtain their benefits were it not for pro bono attorneys like Andrew Sparks and others at WSGR."

"Our firm and its attorneys take great pride in assisting individuals in need and organizations that support the underserved, and this outcome validates how perseverance and commitment can lead to better circumstances for people like Edgar," said Doug Clark, managing partner, Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati. "We also commend Swords to Plowshares for their ongoing efforts to help those who have served our country and for inspiring Edgar to pursue a career in which he can help others."

Edgar was represented pro bono by Andrew Sparks of WSGR's San Francisco office. Colleen Bal served as the partner mentor on the matter.