"Some may come back with invisible wounds of war," Russell said. "They look visibly put together to you, but at the same time they may be going through other challenges and readjusting to home. So a degree of patience and sensitivity to that fact is needed."
The keynote speaker was Colonel David Sutherland, executive director of the Dixon Center for Military and Veterans Community Services and a former adviser to the Joint Chiefs of Staff on the problems of military and ex-military personnel.
"The signature wounds from Iraq and Afghanistan are post-traumatic stress and mild traumatic brain injury and they manifest themselves in front of our families where we look the same and may act differently," said Sutherland, who served several tours in Iraq. "And the No. 1 remedy for dealing with the effects of combat is feeling like you fit in, feeling connected."
The presentation was organized at the behest of state bar president Seymour James Jr., attorney-in-charge of the criminal practice of the Legal Aid Society. Each year, the current bar president selects two topics to highlight at the "summit" held during the annual meeting.
A special committee of the state bar appointed by the group's past president, Vincent Doyle III of Buffalo, has developed a report on legal needs of returning veterans and how the legal community can help.
The bar's House of Delegates is expected during its meeting on Friday to vote to make permanent the Special Committee on Veterans.
A second panel examined hindrances to better voter participation.
Attorneys John Dunne of Whiteman Osterman & Hanna in Albany and Daniel Kolb of Davis, Polk & Wardwell in Manhattan cochaired a Special Committee on Voter Participation at James' behest. The committee is to present its recommendations for approval by the House of Delegates on Friday.
A panel member, Michael Waldman, president of the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law, said the adoption of new voter identification requirements has posed a threat to what had been government's traditional role of encouraging participation in elections by qualified voters. He called "phony" the argument used to justify new ID requirements: that there is an "epidemic" of voting by unqualified voters.
"There is no massive epidemic of the one kind of voter fraud that voter ID can do anything about, which is in-person voter impersonation," Waldman said. "How do we know this? Because study after study have found that you are more likely to be killed by lightning in the United States than to commit in-person voter impersonation."
But Hans von Spakovsky, a senior legal fellow for the civil justice reform initiative at the Heritage Foundation, said voter fraud does exist and that more stringent voter ID rules have not deterred voter turnout in two states where they have been implemented, Georgia and Indiana.