Washington, D.C. – Two of the nation’s leading advocacy organizations for veterans – the Center for Veterans Advancement (CVA) and the National Organization of Veterans’ Advocates, Inc. (NOVA) – awarded the CVA-NOVA Pro Bono Advocate of the Year Award to Rebecca C. Wanee, an Amory, Miss. veterans’ law attorney and native. She accepted the honor on April 18 at NOVA’s Spring Conference in San Francisco.
Established in 2009, the CVA/NOVA Pro Bono Advocates Program was created in response to the Department of Veterans Affairs’ (VA) initiative to end veteran homelessness by the end of 2015 and the increased demand for legal assistance from poverty-stricken veterans. The annual award is given to an outstanding NOVA member who exemplifies the pro bono spirit by providing free legal services to veterans unable to afford them.
“As a result of her participation, Rebecca has provided tens of thousands of dollars in benefits to homeless veterans, enabling them to access permanent housing and other vital opportunities that lead to an independent life,” CVA Director and Program Manager Rick Little stated. “Rebecca exhibits an unparalleled enthusiasm, grit, and genuine advocacy spirit—indicative of a NOVA member.”
With some 40 participant law firms nationwide, the CVA/NOVA Pro Bono Advocates Program is one of the largest and most successful partnerships of its kind. NOVA members apply their advocacy skills in a variety of ways, from providing legal assistance with claims before VA and the various courts of appeal to helping a disabled veteran obtain a wheelchair or draft a will. The end game is for underprivileged veterans to become self-sufficient and then to sustain that independence.
From August 2009, Program partners have provided hundreds of hours of pro bono legal assistance to indigent veterans, valued at tens of thousands of dollars in labor-value. In addition, Program partners have obtained hundreds of thousands of dollars of desperately needed income for veterans and their families.
Ms. Wanee began her legal career in Columbia, S.C., working for several private practice firms before establishing her own. While there, she led the veterans’ disability team for Bluestein, Nichols, Thompson, & Delgado, LLC for nearly two years.
Relocating to her hometown in 2011, Ms. Wanee reopened her own law firm in Amory – devoted to the practice of Veterans law. With an additional office in Columbia, S.C., Wanee Law Firm, P.A. is a small practice with personalized service, yet capable of representing veterans and their families anywhere in the United States.
Ms. Wanee is accredited by the Department of Veterans Affairs and is admitted to practice in the following jurisdictions and courts: Mississippi (1996); U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces, U.S. Air Force Court of Criminal Appeals, and U.S. Military Courts-Martial (1997); South Carolina (2004); U.S. District Court for the District of South Carolina (2005); and U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims (2006).
She earned her law degree from the Mississippi College School of Law in Jackson, Miss., graduating with distinction. After law school, she received a direct appointment as an officer in the United States Air Force Judge Advocate General’s (JAG) Corps and served on active duty from November 1996 until June 2004. Now, as a member of the U.S. Air Force Reserve, Ms. Wanee currently serves as a JAG officer in the Mississippi Air National Guard.
A NOVA member since 2006, Ms. Wanee currently serves on NOVA’s Congressional Testimony Committee and previously served as secretary on NOVA’s Board of Directors from 2010 to 2013. She is a member of the bar associations for South Carolina and Mississippi.