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Veterans Defense Program Awards and Accomplishments

VDP National and Statewide Awards

Gary Horton, co-founder and Director of the Veterans Defense Program, was awarded the Kutak-Dodds Prize from the National Legal Aid & Defenders Association (NLADA) in June 2018. The national award established in 1989, honors legal aid attorneys and public defenders who through the practice of law have significantly enhanced the quality of life for individuals who cannot afford legal representation. Gary was honored for his strong commitment to litigation and advocacy on behalf of veterans and low-income individuals. 

 (VDP Director Gary Horton receiving NLADA Award from Ronald Simpson-Bey, JustLeadershipUSA)


Art Cody, former Deputy Director of the Veterans Defense Program, was awarded the David S. Michaels Memorial Award from New York State Bar Association in January 2019. The statewide award recognizes courageous efforts in promoting integrity, justice, and fairness in the criminal justice system.


The VDP honored Senator John Brooks, Chair of the Senate Veterans, Homeland Security & Military Affairs Committee with a Distinguished Service Award at a reception for the first anniversary of the VDP Long Island Office in December 2019.

(VDP Case Manager Juan Sosa, VDP Deputy Director Roy Diehl, Senator Brooks, VDP Long Island Staff Attorney Blair Hill and VDP Assistant Program Coordinator Barbara Lombardi)


The VDP's assistance provided a second chance for veterans who have lost their way and facilitated a treatment-oriented mitigation approach focusing on restoration and rehabilitation.

  • In 2018 and 2019 the VDP assisted 924 veterans and trained hundreds of public defenders representing veterans in New York State's criminal and family court systems. 
  • The program provided legal assistance to defense counsel representing veterans, providing advice on how to obtain military and VA records and assistance with expert referrals, including military culture and medical experts.
  • The Veterans Defense Program helped hundreds of justice-involved veterans to be diverted into treatment and probation, avoiding hundred of years of incarceration with a cost savings to New York State of up to $77 million. 
  • The VDP's zealous representation resulted in case victories where veterans were saved from incarceration, provided leniency by the court, and sentenced to probation and treatment to address their mental health conditions and/or substance abuse.


Comprehensive training provided for hundreds of lawyers defending veterans

The VDP provided extensive legal training to hundreds of public defenders, legal aid society attorneys, and assigned counsel with training workshops and statewide convenings. The trainings often provided Continuing Legal Education credits for attorneys and received excellent reviews. The VDP gave education presentations to attorneys, veterans, and legal organizations working on public defense, criminal justice and veteran issues. 


"You definitely gave one of the best CLE presentations I have ever seen. Thanks for your help!"

Diana Salierno, The Legal Aid Society, Queens, NY


"On behalf of my office, I want to thank you for the excellent CLE presented over the past two evenings. I know each of my attorneys who attended the sessions obtained a tremendous amount of information and guidance from you. We greatly appreciate the work of the VDP."

N. Scott Banks, Attorney in Chief, Legal Aid of Nassau County Hempstead, NY




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