While deployed to Iraq, Army Ranger Phillips McWilliams led patrols searching for roadside explosives and huddled with local leaders to help keep the peace.
Now back home in South Carolina and enrolled in law school, the 29-year-old is searching for other military veterans who are practicing attorneys or law students and willing to help their brothers and sisters in arms.
"There's definitely a need. An unprecedented number of veterans are filing claims with the VA, and they probably need help with it," he said McWilliams.
The Columbia native has become president of a group called "Service Members and Veterans in Law" at the University of South Carolina. He and several other veterans are on the lookout and hope to build a network of colleagues willing to give their time.
They have found dozens in this state capital and university community, and hope to reach out to law firms across this military-friendly state.
South Carolina is host to eight major military installations. In all, there are nearly 133,000 uniformed military, civilian Department of Defense workers and military retirees who live here.
The group has several goals, McWilliams said. He wants law schools to look at and accept military veterans as students; he also wants to build a network of students and attorneys who can help veterans assimilate into the educational system.
"We also want to create a group of practicing attorneys, and encourage them to do pro bono work" on veterans' or service members' behalf, he said.
McWilliams recently organized a get together for several dozen members.