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Law School Veterans Clinic to Host Symposium on Traumatic Brain Injury

November 10th, 2015

On Veterans Day, Wednesday, November 11, the University of Missouri School of Law’s Veterans Clinic will host a symposium, “Traumatic Brain Injury: Lessons Learned from Our Nation’s Athletes and Military.” The symposium will be divided into morning and afternoon sessions with lunch provided for lawyers, law students and members of the public who attend the full-day event.

Dr. Susan Okie will deliver the symposium’s keynote address. A Harvard-trained physician, Okie published her article “Traumatic Brain Injury in the War Zone” in The Washington Post and illuminated early on the deleterious effects of traumatic brain injuries (TBI) for returning veterans.

According to Okie, TBI are more widespread in the modern army because Kevlar body army prevents many casualties from trauma; yet even state-of-the-art helmets cannot completely protect the head and brain.

“So many veterans need help,” said Angela Drake, director of the Veterans Clinic, “and this symposium will provide lawyers with the ABCs of assisting a veteran with a disability claim.”

Two former NFL players will help shed light on the burgeoning issue of TBI and the NFL–Marvin Washington of the 1998 Denver Broncos Super Bowl team and former University of Missouri star Michael Sam. Washington and Sam will personally attest to the potential dangers of football played at the highest level. 3L Justin Trueblood, president of the Mizzou Law Sports Society, will moderate the panel featuring Washington.

Additionally, the symposium will feature Paul Anderson, an attorney at the Klamann Law Firm in Kansas City, who represents several former NFL players in concussion-related litigation and founded NFLConcussionLitigation.com. According to Drake, Anderson is a national expert in NFL litigation from both a practical and academic perspective.

The symposium will assist Missouri attorneys with the process of helping veterans file claims with the Veterans Administration. Some of these attorneys will fulfill their requirement for pro bono work by assisting veterans. Moreover, the attorneys who attend the symposium will become an invaluable resource for referrals when the Veterans Clinic has more clients than the staff can support, which unfortunately has already happened this year.

The Veterans Clinic hopes that learning about the legal issues surrounding TBI will make the experience of TBI real for those unfamiliar with the military. Alex Pracht, who is retired from the U.S. Army and is a client of the Veterans Clinic, will speak about TBI from the perspective of one who suffered TBI when his convoy was attacked in Afghanistan. Pracht’s mother, Pat, will join him to tell of the effects of TBI on families on a panel that will also feature 101st Airborne veteran Shawn Lee, ’15.

The work of law students, such as that of 3L Stacy Nicks, will be on display at the symposium as well. Nicks worked with a veteran in East St. Louis, Ill., to navigate an overwhelming number of regulations to start receiving his full benefits. Her work epitomizes the hopes of the Veterans Clinic, according to Drake.

All events at the symposium will take place in Room 7 Hulston Hall on the University of Missouri campus. The symposium has been approved for up to seven hours of continuing legal education credit in the state of Missouri.

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