Colonel Everett Spain, HBS Doctoral Student, to receive Army Soldier’s Medal

We invite all in the Boston area to attend a very special occasion.

Friday, 3:30 pm at HBS, HBS doctoral student, Everett Spain, will receive the Army’s Soldier’s Medal for his actions in the aftermath at last year’s marathon bombings. Please RSVP.

Everett Spain is an active duty U.S. Army Colonel and Doctoral Student at Harvard Business School. Last year he was serving as a guide for Mr. Steve Sabra, a blind runner in the Boston Marathon. They were approximately 100 meters from the finish when the first bomb detonated. Col. Spain pulled Mr. Sabra through the finish and transferred him to another member of the support staff and raced to the site of the first blast to treat the injured. He proceeded to use his shirt as a tourniquet to stem the bleeding of one victim while simultaneously reassuring his frantic daughter. Col. Spain then moved to assist other injured and then to search for victims that might have been trapped or covered by debris; and to evacuate the building which he thought had been set on fire.

HLS Armed Forces Association – Spring 2014 Semester Recap

This semester has been an exciting one for HLS Armed Forces Association (AFA)! We have hosted three incredibly accomplished speakers, and we played a major role in the International Women’s Day display at HLS. Following is a recap of AFA’s spring semester 2014.

photo-14On February 18, John Bellinger, former Legal Advisor to State Department and current partner at Arnold & Porter, discussed the current legal challenges to the Administration related to evolving national security threats and international relations. The event was generously sponsored by Arnold & Porter’s Washington, D.C. office.  By inviting Mr. Bellinger, AFA, in partnership with NSJNSLA, and LIDS, aimed to highlight the complexity and consequences of international relations and national security issues to how the law is best written and implemented in response to rapidly changing international dynamics.

IMAG0602On February 27, AFA was proud to host Shabana Basij-Rasikh for her lecture on School of Leadership Afghanistan (SOLA), Afghanistan’s first all-girls boarding school.  Shabana discussed how she plans to use SOLA to instill civic duty in her students and prevent brain drain in Afghanistan. She also discussed the real and complex challenges of waging war against the Taliban and al-Qaeda by waging peace on behalf of Afghan women and civil society. This event was made possible by WLA Women’s Venture Fund, LIDS, and Darren Gardner, who is an AFA member (JD Class 2014) and Shabana’s friend and colleague.

IMAG0610On March 3, 2014, Allyson Robinson, who formerly served as head of OutServe-SLDN and as an Army Captain, spoke to students and community members about the “three futures” of transgender Americans and military service at the first joint event at HLS sponsored by Lambda and AFA.  Ms. Robinson discussed trans people’s experiences in the military and described her work with trans members of our armed forces and veterans. She also informed the audience of the considerable but surmountable obstacles to ensuring full and safe participation for transgender individuals in the U.S. armed forces. This event was sponsored by the HLS Milbank Tweed Fund.

HLS International Women's Day Portrait ExhibitOn March 8, AFA was featured in The Harvard Gazette in a piece on the HLS International Women’s Day exhibit, which was organized by WLA and LIDS. The piece features Maria Parra-Orlandoni, AFA’s co-President and LIDS co-Vice President of Communications, who nominated Dana H. Born, a lecturer at the Kennedy School and retired U.S. Air Force Brigadier General, for the exhibit.

[Photo by Stephanie Mitchell, Harvard Staff Photographer.]

Allyson Robinson on Transgender Americans and Military Service: Three Futures

When: March 3, 2014 at noon

Where: Harvard Law School, Wasserstein Hall 1015


Please join us at this landmark event, sponsored by Harvard Law School’s Armed Forces Association and Lambda, as well as Harvard Law School Milbank Fund!!

Last year brought profound change to U.S. military culture, particularly in regard to gender and sexuality. The combat exclusion for women came to an abrupt end. Lesbian, gay, and bisexual Americans edged closer to truly equal service with the fall of the Defense of Marriage Act. Victims of sexual assault in the military brought Congressional attention to bear on the problem for the first time.

Despite all this momentous change, the military’s policy of barring qualified transgender people from serving has gone unadressed, at least officially. Yet from the hallways of the Pentagon to the hills of Afghanistan, military and civilian leaders are beginning to recognize that the time has come to review the policy. Some, both in and out of uniform, are organizing to change it.

Building on her experience as a West Point graduate, a military commander, and an LGBT civil rights advocate, former Army Captain Allyson Robinson will examine the policy as it exists today and efforts to bring it up to date with medical advances and the more inclusive practices of U.S. allies. She’ll then lay out three possible futures for advocates’ work to change the policy: the quick, quiet victory; the sequential series of skirmishes; and the protracted battle of attrition.

More about Allyson Robinson:

As principal of her own boutique consulting firm, Warrior Poet Strategies, Allyson Robinson advises select clients in organizational design, change strategy, diversity management, and movement entrepreneurship. In the past she led internal and external diversity initiatives at the Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest LGBT civil rights organization, where she conceived, created, and launched the organization’s social enterprise to train large organizations in diversity and inclusion. She later became the first transgender person to lead a national LGBT advocacy organization as executive director of OutServe-SLDN. In that role, she conceived and coordinated the public vetting of Secretary of Defense nominee Chuck Hagel on LGBT issues, getting him to make a decisive, written commitment to equality prior to his confirmation. She’s also served as an Army officer and an ordained Baptist pastor, studied at West Point, Oxford University, and Arizona State, and earned degrees in physics and theology.

Civic Duty and Brain Drain: Challenges of an Afghan Pioneer

When: Feb. 27, 2014 at noon

Where: HLS, Wasserstein Hall Room 2004


Shabana Basij-Rasikh did much of her learning under the Taliban. She traveled dressed as a boy and crammed into a crowded living room with a hundred other girls to receive an extremely rare–and extremely dangerous–education.

After the U.S. military invasion in 2001, a United States program called YES sent Shabana to Middlebury College in Vermont, where she graduated magna cum laude. She returned to Afghanistan to co-found the country’s first girl’s boarding and prep school with an American man, Ted Achilles. Ted had become disenchanted with the U.S. efforts to send young Afghans to foreign universities because, while Shabana was a success story, many students did not return to Afghanistan.

Join Shabana to discuss the challenges facing a pioneer in education: brain drain, student safety in an environment still hostile to women’s learning, and using education to create lasting Afghan and global stability.

This is an Armed Forces Association event sponsored by HLS WLA Women’s Venture Fund and cosponsored by Law and International Development Society.

Lunch will be provided.

John Bellinger on “The AUMF, Drones, Guantanamo, the NSA Controversy, and other national security law challenges for the Administration.”


John Bellinger, a renowned national security and international public law expert, will be coming to speak at HLS on February 18, 2014, about “The AUMF, Drones, Guantanamo, the NSA Controversy, and other national security law challenges for the Administration.”

Please read Mr. Bellinger’s extensive and impressive biography here. Highlights, in addition to being a partner at Arnold & Porter, include: Legal Adviser to the Department of State from 2005 to 2009 under Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Senior Associate Counsel to the President and Legal Adviser to the National Security Council (NSC) at the White House from 2001-2005. We are honored to welcome Mr. Bellinger and hope you can join us!

Time and Location: 5:30 pm, HLS Wasserstein Hall Room 2009

Sponsored by Harvard Law School Armed Forced Association and Arnold & Porter, with support from our cosponsors: Harvard National Security Journal, Harvard National Security and Law Association, and Harvard Law and International Development Society.

U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Affairs Decision Argued at HLS Helps Thousands of Veterans Whose Disability Claims Have Been Denied

Originally posted on Yahoo!

In a decision that impacts thousands of veterans, the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims has ruled that Lieutenant Colonel (LTC) Wilson J. Ausmer, Jr., a highly decorated veteran, should be able to file an appeal of his disability claim even though he had missed the 120-day deadline to do so.

The case was argued in October 2013 at Harvard Law School before the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims as part of the Veterans Legal Clinic of the Legal Services Center of Harvard Law School, which is administered through a partnership of Harvard, the law firm of Chisholm Chisholm & Kilpatrick and DAV (Disabled American Veterans).

The precedent-setting decision paid particular note to the difficulties faced by those who served multiple deployments. LTC Ausmer was serving in Afghanistan on his second combat deployment in the Middle East when his disability claim was denied. The Court ruled the deadline should have been extended.

In its decision, the Court cited “the difficulties faced by service members returned from deployment to a combat zone” and noted that since “…the evidence establishes that the appellant had difficulty readjusting to civilian life, the Court finds that the appellant’s deployment and military service materially affected his ability to protect his legal rights under section 524.”

The Court stayed the appeal period for 90 days after LTC Ausmer’s military service was terminated so that his case can proceed.

The Veterans Court also decided that the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (“SCRA”) applies to proceedings before the Court. The Court applied SCRA and first found that the 120-day period did not begin to run until LTC Ausmer was discharged from active duty.

CCK’s and the Clinic’s interpretation of the Court’s ruling is that it effectively allows recently discharged veterans whose ability to file an appeal is “materially affected” by their service a full 210 days from the date of discharge to appeal adverse BVA decisions. This is a huge win for veterans’ rights, as the Court’s holding would logically extend to appeals filed at the VA as well. In Fiscal Year 2013, over a 100,000 appeals were filed at the VA.

Read original posting and full article here!

A review of HLS AFA activities on Veterans Day 2013


Professor Jack Goldsmith lecturing on the implications of the Snowden leaks and the future of the war on Al Qaeda and affiliates from Veterans Day, 2013.



AFA Vets Day JGProfessor Jack Goldsmith and HLS AFA co-President cutting a Veterans day cake before the noon lecture.

AFA Vets Day Dean MinowDean Martha Minow and HLS AFA co-President cutting a Veterans Day cake in honor of all HLS Veterans.



Enlisting at Harvard Law School—a look at this year’s service members

There are two Navy JAG Corps officers in the HLS LL.M. program this year, both with distinguished legal careers in the military. For the past five years, Stephen C. Reyes LL.M. ’14 served as lead defense counsel for a high-value prisoner facing capital charges in a military tribunal at Guantanamo Bay. Jacob W. Romelhardt LL.M. ’14 has had several deployments to Afghanistan and Iraq, where he advised on detainee operations and helped negotiate policy with the Afghanistan government on detainees and on U.S. military special operations.

This year’s 1L class includes nine military veterans, including A. Zoe Bedell ’16, a former U.S. Marine, who helped create and implement a program in Afghanistan to engage female Marines with local women, and who is part of a lawsuit challenging the Department of Defense policy that excludes women from combat positions. In addition to the nine current 1Ls, there are six more students deferring their start because they are still on active duty. The 3L class has ten veterans; the 2L class has seventeen. Of these, fourteen are attending HLS through the Yellow Ribbon program, by which the U.S. Veterans Administration matches the amount a law school offers to pay for a veteran’s tuition and expenses. HLS makes the maximum commitment—50 percent—so that with the VA’s match, these veterans attend for free. Other veterans are funding their HLS education through the G.I. bill and student loans; the military covers the entire cost of the LL.M program.

Original post and more about these awesome veterans available here.

A case for veterans


A case for veterans: Harvard Law students help argue appeal over benefits before U.S. court

The average week for a typical law school student involves poring over a list of daunting cases and deconstructing complicated arguments. But last week the work of three Harvard Law School (HLS) students included something else: an appearance in federal court.

The students, who are part of the School’s Veterans Legal Clinic, stood before the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims last Wednesday to argue for the rights of their client, a decorated U.S. Army veteran.

Read more…

Veterans Legal Clinic argues Ausmer v. Shinseki before the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims


Today, the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims convened in HLS’s Ames Courtroom to hear the case of Ausmer v. Shinseki.  The Court is based in Washington D.C. but is authorized to hear cases anywhere in the United States.  A legal team from our own Veterans Legal Clinic (Professor Daniel Nagin, 3L Bradley Hinshelwood, and 2Ls Christopher Melendez and Juan Arguello – both HLS AFA members) was co-counsel with Chisholm, Chisholm & Kilpatrick for the Appellant. Today was the first time the Court had ever heard oral argument from student attorneys in a veteran’s clinic.

Brad and Chris shared the 30 minutes they were allocated for oral argument.  Brad was first up and was not able to complete his first sentence before he was peppered with questions from the three-judge panel.  Chris had 10 minutes for rebuttal and was also questioned closely.  Both students were composed and certainly did the clinic, HLS, and their client proud!

In thanking everyone at the end of the post-hearing Q & A, Dean Martha Minow noted that it was a tremendous honor to see a court serving the veterans who had served our country.  At the All Staff Luncheon soon afterwards, she told everyone present about the event and said “it made this Dean’s heart grow large.”

Original post