Kristin Hendriksen

EJA Awards two-year $130,000 Veterans’ Rights Fellowship to Kristin Hendriksen at Legal Aid Chicago

In News by david.landis

Kristin Hendriksen (Northwestern J.D. 2020), EJA Veterans' Rights Fellow
I am so thankful to Equal Justice America for the amazing opportunity to work with Legal Aid Chicago to ensure veterans receive the services and benefits they are entitled to after serving their country. By providing such services, Legal Aid Chicago helps veterans navigate the many obstacles that inhibit them from successfully settling back into life at home, such as the VA's bureaucratic processes and housing market's discriminatory attitude towards them. By participating in this crucial work, I am excited to help veterans obtain the services and benefits they need to further their happiness and personal security.

After witnessing and experiencing how inequality's many manifestations prohibit the achievement of personal growth, socioeconomic mobility, and access to America's justice system, I became a lawyer so I could serve communities and individuals impacted by such injustices—such as veterans. In particular, my commitment to work with veterans resulted from listening to family and friends reflect upon the unique challenges they encountered when their service concluded and they returned home. Often times they experienced emotional trauma, sustained life-changing physical injuries, and confronted discrimination while searching for work and housing. In addition, they found navigating the VA's bureaucracy cumbersome and confusing.

Listening to my loved ones reflect upon their experiences taught me that such obstacles prevent veterans from receiving the benefits and services they are entitled to and hinders their obtainment of happiness and personal security—essential elements of the American Dream they served to protect. Seeing such injustices drew me to Legal Aid Chicago's EJA Veterans Rights Fellowship because Legal Aid Chicago provides crucial legal services that mitigate the obstacles veterans face and help veterans acquire the American Dream's promises that could otherwise escape their grasp.

Prior to working as an EJA Fellow with Legal Aid Chicago, I interned at the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) and Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) in the summer and fall of 2018 respectively. In these roles, I served workers who experienced workplace discrimination or unfair labor practices by listening to their experiences, helping them understand their statutory rights, and working with them to navigate each agencies' opaque processes so they could vindicate their legal rights. Through my work at the NLRB and EEOC I further witnessed inequality's pervasive impact and how it can bar one from acquiring greater opportunity and make it impossible to escape poverty's cyclical effects.

These experiences further cemented by commitment to serve and work with people that are vulnerable to inequality and its consequences. In turn, I am excited to continue this work as an EJA Fellow at Legal Aid Chicago and look forward to advocating for veterans by ensuring they receive legal representation that helps them acquire the services and benefits they need to achieve the happiness and personal stability they desire and deserve.



Legal Aid Chicago Welcomes Kristin Hendriksen

Katherine Shank

“The opportunity to have another post-graduate EJA Fellow with us is absolutely incredible and we are so grateful for your support and partnership.”
– Katherine Shank, Deputy Director, Legal Aid Chicago


“ After serving their country, veterans often face daunting obstacles to integrating back into life at home. While disability and other benefits are available from the VA, lengthy delays and complex rules make qualifying for those benefits difficult. We are thrilled to have Kristin Hendriksen, our new EJA Fellow, coming on board to help us meet the legal needs of our veterans!”
– Hugh “Trey” Daly, Director, Public Benefits Practice Group, Legal Aid Chicago


Katherine Shank

“ Unhoused and recently housed veterans face a variety of issues that threaten their already tenuous stability. Legal Aid Chicago’s goal is to work with veterans to ensure that they may seek, enjoy, and use their housing free from discrimination and preserve housing benefits to which they are entitled. We are excited that Equal Justice America has afforded us an opportunity to expand our housing work with our new EJA Fellow Kristin Hendriksen.”
–Dennericka Brooks, Director, Housing Practice Group,
Legal Aid Chicago


“I am so grateful to Equal Justice America for providing me with the opportunity to launch my career as an immigration attorney at Legal Aid Chicago. We look forward to welcoming a new EJA Fellow in 2020 who will provide critical legal help to veterans.”
–Lauren Dana, Staff Attorney, Immigration and Workers’ Rights Practice Group, Legal Aid Chicago, EJA Immigration Fellow 2017-2019

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