Disrupting Veteran Legal Aid, Antoinette Balta with Veterans Legal Institute

Veterans Legal Institute, serving over 8000 low-income veterans to date!

“When I’m driving onto the on ramp of the freeway and I see someone holding a sign and it says homeless veteran, can you help? It makes my blood boil because I’ll usually look at the veteran and it’s almost always a Vietnam era veteran. It’s mind blowing,” Antoinette Balta says.

Disruption Interruption podcast host and veteran communications disruptor, Karla Jo Helms, interviews Antoinette Balta, Executive Director and Co-Founder of Veterans Legal Institute—who has been providing pro bono legal services for thousands of low-income veterans in need.

Veterans put their lives on the line every day to defend our country, but the fight doesn’t stop when they come home. Veterans often need legal aid to get critical services, but in most cases it is too expensive, forcing them to represent themselves or worse, not even have their legal needs met. COVID has made them even more vulnerable.(1) Enter disruptor Antoinette Balta, Executive Director & Co-Founder of Veterans Legal Institute, who tells Karla Jo Helms, host of Disruption / Interruption, how her non-profit is giving back to veterans by providing pro bono legal services those who have given so much to us.

Most Americans assume that once veterans have exited military service and returned home, they are in no more danger. However, reassimilating back into civilian life can be very difficult. For instance, veterans, especially those who receive compensation benefits, are frequent targets of scammers. In addition, low-income veterans can be especially vulnerable when it comes to issues that require legal assistance such as housing and health care benefits.(2)

Antoinette’s firm, the Veterans Legal Institute, is acutely aware of these issues and to date, has served more than 8,000 low-income veterans.

Antoinette explains:

1.    Courage is the gateway to disruption. Change is difficult but it’s well worth the effort to improve the lives of others.
2.    Veteran legal is much too costly for today’s veterans. Rates can be as high as $400 an hour, and if they can’t afford these costs, the veterans must represent themselves.
3.    80% of veterans become businesspersons, but the other 20% must deal with service-related psychological or physical wounds and need legal help.
4.    Every day, 22 veterans take their own life—that’s more than veterans lost in combat on a daily basis.
5.    Veterans Legal Institute wants to give legal help and services to every veteran that needs it, and never turn one down.
6.    15 years ago, while Antoinette was working at a National Guard armory emergency shelter, she noticed there were many veterans that needed more help than others but were not getting it. This experience became the impetus she needed to begin the change.

“When I’m driving onto the on ramp of the freeway and I see someone holding a sign and it says homeless veteran, can you help? It makes my blood boil because I’ll usually look at the veteran and it’s almost always a Vietnam era veteran. It’s mind blowing,” Antoinette Balta says. “Fortunately, the OEF OIF, the Iraq and Afghanistan veterans, have a lot more resources at their fingertips. There’s a lot more outreach to them, but I definitely don’t want to forget our brothers and sisters that served in Vietnam and even Korea.”

Disruption Interruption is the podcast where you’ll hear from today’s biggest Industry Disruptors. Learn what motivated them to bring about change and how they overcome opposition to adoption.

Disruption Interruption can be listened to via the Podbean app, and is available on Apple’s App Store and Google Play.

About Disruption Interruption:
Disruption is happening on an unprecedented scale, impacting all manner of industries—MedTech, Finance, IT, eCommerce, shipping and logistics, and more—and COVID has moved their timelines up a full decade or more. But WHO are these disruptors and when did they say, “THAT’S IT! I’VE HAD IT!”? Time to Disrupt and Interrupt with host Karla Jo “KJ” Helms, veteran communications disruptor. KJ interviews bad a**es who are disrupting their industries and altering economic networks that have become antiquated with an establishment resistant to progress. She delves into uncovering secrets from industry rebels and quiet revolutionaries that uncover common traits—and not-so-common—that are changing our economic markets… and lives. Visit the world’s key pioneers that persist to success, despite arrows in their backs at http://www.disruptioninterruption.com.

About Karla Jo Helms:
Karla Jo Helms is the Chief Evangelist and Anti-PR(TM) Strategist for JOTO PR Disruptors(TM).
Karla Jo learned firsthand how unforgiving business can be when millions of dollars are on the line—and how the control of public opinion often determines whether one company is happily chosen, or another is brutally rejected. Being an alumni of crisis management, Karla Jo has worked with litigation attorneys, private investigators and the media to help restore companies of goodwill back into the good graces of public opinion—Karla Jo operates on the ethic of getting it right the first time, not relying on second chances and doing what it takes to excel. Helms speaks globally on public relations, how the PR industry itself has lost its way and how, in the right hands, corporations can harness the power of Anti-PR to drive markets and impact market perception.

About Veterans Legal Institute:
Veterans Legal Institute® (VLI) provides pro bono legal assistance to homeless, at risk, disabled and low income current and former service members to eradicate barriers to housing, healthcare, education, and employment and foster self-sufficiency. To volunteer or help, visit http://www.vetslegal.com

About Antoinette Balta:
Antoinette Balta is Executive Director and Co-Founder of the Veterans Legal Institute® where she oversees and has responsibility for the overall management of the firm including business development, outreach, public relations, marketing, strategic planning and a light legal caseload. She comes to VLI with a long-held passion to serve homeless and at-risk veterans and service members and has dedicated her career to that end. Ms. Balta holds a degree in Business Administration with an emphasis in Marketing and Management from Chapman University School of Business as well as a Juris Doctor with a special certificate in Alternative Dispute Resolution and an LLM emphasized in Business and Economics from Chapman University Fowler School of Law.

1.    Hecht, Nathan L. and Kelly, Chari L. “Veterans often need legal help to get critical services, and COVID made them more vulnerable.” The Dallas Morning News, 09 November 2021, dallasnews.com/opinion/commentary/2021/11/09/veterans-often-need-legal-help-to-get-critical-services-and-covid-made-them-more-vulnerable/.
2.    Fisher, Ann. “Challenges Low-Income Veterans Face To Readjust To Civilian Life.” All Sides with Ann Fisher podcast, 11 November 2021, news.wosu.org/show/all-sides-with-ann-fisher/2021-11-11/challenges-low-income-veterans-face-to-readjust-to-civilian-life.

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