A Veterans Day Spotlight: ISBA Military & Veterans’ Affairs Committee

To commemorate Veterans Day, we asked members of the State Bar’s Military & Veterans’ Affairs Committee to share with us what this day means to them and why involvement with this committee is important.

Harold R. “Hal” Johnston II, Lt. Col., U.S. Army (retired)
Court Coordinator, Indianapolis Veterans Court

JohnstonWhat Veterans Day means to you: As a 30-year veteran of the U.S. Army, Veterans Day is more than just another day off. It is a day for reflection and remembrance – to reflect upon the meaning of selfless service to one’s comrades and nation and to remember the sacrifices made by so many in the defense of freedom. But it is not enough to simply look back. Veterans Day must also be a day to pledge again loyalty to our republic and recognize that service to our nation is a daily obligation for all citizens, regardless of whether or not they wear a uniform. Thomas Jefferson once observed the “eternal vigilance is the price of liberty.” Veterans Day is the day to reaffirm our willingness as citizens and as a nation to pay that price for our liberties, our republic and our civilization.

Why ISBA Military & Veterans’ Affairs Committee involvement: The ISBA Military & Veterans’ Affairs Committee provides an opportunity to continue to serve those men and women in uniform who have volunteered to safeguard our nation. As a veteran of three combat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, I know the difficulties of wartime deployment. This is my chance to help mobilizing service members with the stresses and challenges of military service.


Jeter Uniform PicChris P. Jeter, Lt. Cmdr., U.S. Navy Reserve
Partner, Massillamany & Jeter

What Veterans Day means to you: To me, Veterans Day is a day to celebrate those who have given the ultimate sacrifice that we may live in the greatest country on earth. I think of my grandfather who was at Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, and all of the other Americans just like me who have similar personal stories. The one-half of 1 percent who bear 100 percent of the burden for defending our freedoms deserve our admiration and our appreciation.

Why ISBA Military & Veterans’ Affairs Committee involvement: Service on the ISBA Military & Veterans’ Affairs Committee is important to me because it provides an avenue to keep veterans’ issues at the forefront of Hoosiers’ minds; it’s also a small way to give back by assisting other veterans who have fallen on hard times.


ParkerJ.T. Parker, Col., U.S. Army (retired)
Chief of Staff, Indiana Prosecuting Attorneys Council

What Veterans Day means to you: For me, every day is Veterans Day. A day doesn’t go by where I haven’t thought about the military and what our armed forces have meant to this country. What would we have, or not have, without those who chose to put on the uniform? Most days, I think about my friends who served, and I am grateful for their accomplishments and sacrifices. I hope this is a day when the rest of our citizens think and reflect along similar lines.

Why ISBA Military & Veterans’ Affairs Committee involvement: The most important thing the committee can do is to keep the bar and others focused on the needs of those who serve and those who have served. Concern for service members that Americans showed after 9/11 has waned. It is not time to forget. Service members and veterans still have unique burdens to bear and needs to address. The committee can help by keeping these matters on the front burner and by educating the community.


KirtlandRobert E. Kirtland, Lt. Col., U.S. Army Reserve

What Veterans Day means to you: Veterans Day reminds me of the sacrifices made by millions of men and women who have served in our nation’s armed forces both in peacetime and during war. I remember my family members who have previously served, including the present day, Vietnam, World War II and the Revolutionary War. Lastly, I am reminded of those presently serving in faraway and oftentimes dangerous places that risk their lives on our nation’s behalf.

Why ISBA Military & Veterans’ Affairs Committee involvement: Involvement with the ISBA Military & Veterans’ Affairs Committee offers me the chance to give back and help in my legal capacity those who have served in our nation’s military.


Granger, Maria D_0650Hon. Maria D. Granger, Floyd Superior Court #3, Veterans Treatment Court
Judge Granger’s husband, retired Sgt. Steven S. Mennemeyer, and stepson, Sgt. Steven P. Mennemeyer (Killed in Action, Operation Iraqi Freedom, 2006), both served in the U.S. Army.

What Veterans Day means to you: Veterans Day is a day of privilege when Americans can renew their patriotic spirit and purpose as we remember and celebrate our service members and veterans. It is a special day to celebrate our country’s service members and veterans for giving their best in service to our country. It is a reminder that we all must do what we can, where we are, to support our nation’s heroes. I am proud to be a citizen of a grateful nation!

Why ISBA Military & Veterans’ Affairs Committee involvement: Our committee values our military and veterans’ attorneys and their families. We are an organized effort to make sure that our profession is inclusive of all veterans. We make a deliberate effort to ensure that legal professionals are trained in areas of the law that assist veterans and that service members have access to high-quality legal services when needed.


Andrew R. Rutz, Maj., U.S. Army Reserve
Bosley & Bratch

What Veterans Day means to you: Recalling the sacrifices service members have made raises the consequences of going to war first and foremost – at least for a day – in the nation’s collective consciousness (and perhaps conscience). The moment of silence during Armistice Day was intended to serve these purposes, I think.

Why ISBA Military & Veterans’ Affairs Committee involvement: After 10 years of continuous combat in two areas of operations – Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) and Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) – numerous legal issues have and will continue to arise, e.g., development of Veterans Courts; whether the increasing cost of VA benefits will drive dramatic changes in the VA’s fulfillment of the Veterans Claims Assistance Act; guardianship and elder law to address long-term impacts of TBI and PTSD (signature injuries of OIF and OEF); and unemployment among some cohorts of veterans, raising potential child support issues.


Roger Wilson, Warrant Officer, Indiana Army National Guard

What Veterans Day means to you: It is a day that brings attention to those who are serving and those who have served. It reminds us that we should be thankful every day for those who have stepped forward to protect our way of life.

Why ISBA Military & Veterans’ Affairs Committee involvement: As a current member of the military and the U.S. Army JAG Corps, I’m able to bring experience and expertise to the committee so that we may assist veterans with legal issues they may be facing. It is a great opportunity to give back.


Paul J. Schilling, Sgt. 1st Class, U.S. Army/Indiana Army National Guard
Office of the Indiana Attorney General

What Veterans Day means to you: Veterans Day provides an opportunity for everyone to honor our veterans for their service to our country.

Why ISBA Military & Veterans’ Affairs Committee involvement: It provides an opportunity to discuss and directly decide on issues that are important to veterans. It also provides an opportunity to meet with other veteran attorneys.


Tammy S SomersHon. Tammy S. Somers, Hendricks Superior Court
Magistrate Somers’ grandfather, a sergeant in the U.S. Air Force, and three of her uncles representing the U.S. Army, Marines and Navy, served in our armed forces.

What Veterans Day means to you: Veterans Day is a day to remember and thank all those who served. I myself have not served, but I have several family members and friends who have. I feel that we owe our veterans so much for protecting us. Land of the free because of the brave!

Why ISBA Military & Veterans’ Affairs Committee involvement: The most important reason is that I am trying to start a Veterans Treatment Court in Hendricks County. I think our veterans deserve all the help we can give them.


Polli A. Pollem, Capt., U.S. Air Force & Air National Guard (retired)
Indiana Legal Service, Inc.

What Veterans Day means to you: It is a day to honor veterans. As a veteran, I appreciate and enjoy the recognition.

Why ISBA Military & Veterans’ Affairs Committee involvement: To give back to those who served. Many service members, and their families, have given up a lot in order to serve. Helping them with their legal issues so that they can get on with a productive life is the least we can do.

On this Veterans Day, let us remember the service of these veterans, and all veterans, who have sacrificed so much so that we can live free.

Happy Veterans Day!

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