Dana Montalto

Lecturer on Law

2021-2022

Biography

Dana Montalto is an Attorney and Clinical Instructor in the Veterans Legal Clinic at the Legal Services Center of Harvard Law School. She represents veterans with less-than-honorable discharges in seeking military discharge upgrades and federal and state veteran benefits. Dana also founded and directs the Veterans Justice Pro Bono Partnership, which connects veterans who wrongfully received less-than-honorable discharges with pro bono attorneys seeking to give back to those who served. She authored Underserved: How VA Wrongfully Excludes Veterans with Bad Paper on behalf of Swords to Plowshares and the National Veterans Legal Services Program and co-authored With Malice Toward None: Revisiting the Historical & Legal Basis for Excluding Veterans from “Veteran” Services, 122 Penn. St. L. Rev. 69 (2017).

Dana received her bachelor’s degree, magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa, from Wellesley College and her law degree from Yale Law School, where she participated in the Veterans Legal Services Clinic and the International Refugee Assistance Project. She joined the Legal Services Center in 2014 as an Arthur Liman Public Interest Fellow after completing a clerkship for the Honorable F. Dennis Saylor IV of the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts.

Areas of Interest

Margaret Kuzma, Dana Montalto, Elizabeth Gwin & Daniel Nagin, Military Discharge Upgrade: Legal Practice Manual (American Bar Association 2021).
Categories:
Government & Politics
Sub-Categories:
Military & Veterans Law
Type: Book
Abstract
This landmark publication—the first of its kind in 30 years—enables advocates to successfully represent veterans who unjustly received less-than-honorable or other stigmatizing discharges. Written by attorneys from the Legal Services Center of Harvard Law School’s Veterans Legal Clinic and Connecticut Veterans Legal Center, this book helps bring honor and life-altering benefits to veterans.
Bradford Adams & Dana Montalto, With Malice toward None: Revisiting the Historical and Legal Basis for Excluding Veterans from Veteran Services, 122 Penn St. L. Rev. 69 (2017).
Categories:
Government & Politics
Sub-Categories:
Military & Veterans Law
Type: Article
Abstract
In enacting the G.I. Bill of Rights in 1944, Congress made available an unprecedented slate of benefits to nearly all returning servicemembers, establishing a broad eligibility standard that excluded only those whose conduct in service was “dishonorable.” This move revoked from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) its authority to choose the standards for receiving benefits but preserved agency authority to evaluate the facts of each case. Yet today, former servicemembers whose conduct was not “dishonorable” are nevertheless excluded from receiving basic services at the VA because agency regulations have drifted from the statutory standard. At the same time, military discharge practices have changed in ways that exacerbate the gap between statutory intent and regulatory outcomes. These changes have led to a historically unprecedented rate of exclusion from basic veteran services and a failure to enact the statutory standard Congress prescribed. This article uncovers the history of the VA’s “other than dishonorable conditions” eligibility standard and uses traditional tools of statutory interpretation to rediscover its true meaning and argue for revisions to the VA’s present implementing regulations and policies. Restoring the clarity and purpose of this law would re-establish the proper balance between Congress and the VA, and better fulfill our nation’s promise to care for those who have served our country in uniform.

Education History

Current Courses

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