Sunday, September 22, 2013

Student Organizations: The Hamilton Society

The Appalachian School of Law Hamilton Society

No government could give us tranquility and happiness at home
which did not possess sufficient stability and strength
to make us respectable abroad.”

Speech at the Constitutional Convention, 
June 29, 1787

This student organization, founded in 2006, serves military veterans, current service members, families of service personnel, and veterans' organizations.  It seeks to support a link between duty to country and our legal system.

I have a great interest in this organization even though I never served in the military.  I did, however, provide pro bono legal services to Viet Nam veterans who suffered from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder shortly after the Veterans Benefits Administration recognized PTSD as a compensable military injury.  The diagnosis of PTSD first appeared in the third edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders in 1980.  Shortly after that, the VBA began paying claims based on the diagnosis, if sufficiently proved -- not an easy task in those days. 

Veterans returning from service in Afghanistan and Iraq suffer from many physical, psychological, and emotional injuries, including PTSD, depression, and suicide, along with extensive physical injuries resulting in amputations, loss of sight, loss of hearing, and brain trauma. 

The National Counterpart

The ASL chapter of the Hamilton Society, while not a member chapter, appears modeled on The Alexander Hamilton Society, which has offices in Washington, D.C.  

The Statement of Purpose of the national society provides:
The Alexander Hamilton Society (AHS) is an independent, non-partisan, not-for-profit, membership organization dedicated to promoting constructive debate on basic principles and contemporary issues in foreign, economic, and national security policy. As we build a national network of outstanding students, faculty, and professionals, we sponsor debates at colleges and universities, as well as in major cities, and provide other opportunities for our members to flourish intellectually, professionally, and personally. 
Our members—on over 35 campuses, as well as in New York City and Washington, DC—are united by basic convictions about the United States and its role in the world:
  • A measured pride in the success of the American experiment; an understanding that America’s greatness is the result of its commitment to individual liberty, limited government, economic freedom, the rule of law, human dignity, and democracy; and a belief that the fundamental aim of every aspect of our policy, foreign and domestic, must be to defend these principles at home and ultimately to encourage their spread abroad; 
  • A conviction, rooted in the history of the last century, that the world is a better, safer, and more prosperous place when the United States is willing and able to lead; and a commitment to maintaining the moral authority and material strength on which that leadership rests; 
  • An appreciation that the world remains a dangerous place in which our power must be exercised with prudence, and where the primary threats to our security come from states that deny freedom to their own people and from non-state actors who embrace hatred and violence; 
  • A clear recognition that, in such a world, our true friends and reliable partners are other democratic nations with whom we share an enduring commonality of values, and not simply a temporary convergence of interests; 
  • A firm belief that, time and again, in peace and in war, the ability of the American political system to profit from vigorous public discussion has proved its worth; and that, at this moment in our history, our public discussion of foreign, economic, and national security policy stands very much in need of renewal.

The Mission Statement 
of the ASL Chapter

The Constitution of the ASL Hamilton Society contains a similar expression of purpose.  It provides:

The organization is formed:

  • To articulate and promote the needs and goals of the veterans, service members, and families represented on campus and  in the local community; to foster and encourage an attitude of military service to America; and to focus upon the relationship between duty to country and our legal system.
  • As individuals and as an organization, to bring our legal training and motivation to assist with the problems veterans, service members, and their families face as a result of military service to the United Sates; 
  • To actively cultivate responsibility among the legal community to advocate for veterans on a pro bono basis to bring about changes in the way in which veterans and service members of all branches of the military are valued within their society;
  • To make known causes advancing the interest of veterans, service members, and their families;
  • In recognition of the sacrifices made by military service personnel, this organization seeks to promote public awareness of the difficulties of military life and to assist military families in overcoming hardships;
  • To endeavor to keep local chapters of veteran's organizations abreast of laws that might affect veteran's benefits;
  • To engender respect among civilian students who have not had the opportunity to serve in the military for those who have sacrificed through military service to the country, by promoting informational programs on military life. 
It opens membership to "those law students, administrators, teaching staff, and support personnel of the law school who profess a sincere and sympathetic interest in, as wells a proven and unique concern for the plight of veterans and Americanism in society."  It requires annual dues. 

Fellowship Ideal

The Constitution of this student group also contains a fellowship ideal that provides:
We voluntarily and continually seek out opportunity to support and/or recognize service members, veterans, and their families . . . . That support may manifest itself in a solo endeavor by a member, or possibly participation in a larger scale effort by the organization.  
Sponsored Events and Activities

Most of the society's recent events are designed to raise funds for the Grundy High School ROTC program to help students cover uniform costs; for the VFW service organization so it can provide to local veterans household and personal care supplies; for the families of the four local law enforcement officers targeted by a sniper in March 2011; and for the Wounded Warrior Project.

To raise these funds, the Hamilton Society recycled computer ink cartridges, sold commemorative pins for Memorial Day celebrations, and co-hosted, with AWIL, Casino Night.

In addition, members provided cellphones for soldiers and Thanksgiving dinners for local veterans.  

1 comment:

  1. Lawyers Hamilton
    Thank you so very much, this is In favor of my thesis purpose. Very helpful.