Honoring Veterans: U-M Experts on Legal Services and Mental Health Care

By Erica Colaianne

Leading up to Veterans Day, November 11, U-M faculty with experience working directly with veterans and a student cadet outlined the importance of this observance and how Michiganders can continue to show their gratitude for those who have served.

From legal services to mental health, learn more from these experts on the Michigan Minds podcast. 


Matthew Andres, clinical assistant professor of law at Michigan Law, joined Michigan Minds to discuss the services available to veterans in Michigan through the Veterans Legal Clinic (VLC).

Andres is the director of the VLC, and in this episode he outlines the ways that Michigan Law students have helped veterans with civil court cases, how tough it can be for veterans to transition out of the military, and how veterans can receive free legal assistance from the clinic. He explains that the VLC works on a variety of civil cases including housing and landlord/tenant, family law, child support, consumer, and employment.

“We handle civil legal cases. Those are cases where people are not facing jail, but they can be very important cases to them in their lives — like getting out from under a child support [payment] that they can’t afford or getting an opportunity to see their children, or making sure that they’re not evicted and therefore made homeless, or trying to get money back that has been basically taken from them by a fraudulent business or somebody else taking advantage of them. We are really focused on the financial, emotional, and even sometimes the physical health and security of our clients and helping them with things like staying in their housing, maintaining relationships with their children, and preserving or regaining their financial security,” Andres says, adding that unlike in criminal cases, where everyone is entitled to an attorney, civil cases do not include that same right to legal representation.




In this episode of Michigan Minds, John McCarthy, PhD, MPH, talks about veterans’ mental health and suicide prevention — areas in which he has done extensive research. McCarthy is a research associate professor in the Michigan Medicine Department of Psychiatry, director of the Serious Mental Illness Treatment Resource and Evaluation Center at the Department of Veterans Affairs Office of Mental Health and Suicide Prevention, and director of Data and Surveillance, Suicide Prevention Program at the Department of Veterans Affairs in Ann Arbor.

McCarthy also holds a master of public health degree, which has helped him throughout a career focused on improving care and population health approaches for veterans. While working at the Serious Mental Health Treatment Research and Evaluation Center (SMITREC) at the Department of Veterans Affairs in Ann Arbor, McCarthy became interested in researching the veteran population with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and other psychotic disorders, as there wasn’t a lot of information about those areas. McCarthy and his colleagues developed the VA’s National Psychosis Registry, a resource within the center for understanding the population of VA patients with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, at the national level, regional network level, and local facility level.

“We developed this as this grand report that characterized the demographics, utilization, pharmacy costs, and some outcome measures for this population…From that, we also expanded work, looking at access to mental health care for veterans in primary care settings, because the idea was that there was such substantial unmet need for mental health treatment for veterans who come to primary care and who might feel uncomfortable crossing a threshold into a specialty mental health clinic setting.”



SPC Jennifer Phillips, Michigan Army National Guard Combat Medic and U-M student in the U-M College of Literature, Science and the Arts, shared her thoughts on what Veterans Day means to her in this video also featuring members of the University of Michigan ROTC honored our military with a ceremonial Veterans Day flag raising on the U-M Diag on November 11, 2021.


Learn more about U-M Veterans & Military Services at Vets.UMich.edu