Attorney General Mark R. Herring launched the Virginia Military and Veteran Legal Resource Guide, a new tool to help Virginia servicemembers, military families, and veterans utilize the unique legal protections, rights, and resources available to them under the law.
“As attorney general, I’ve looked for ways to help support our veterans and military families using the resources and skills we have in our office. These men and women have done so much for us and for our country, that we owe it to them to support them, ease their transition back to civilian life, and meet their needs,” said Attorney General Herring. “Servicemembers, military families, and veterans can have unique legal needs, and because of that, state and federal law affords them unique rights and protections, but we found that there was really no comprehensive resource for Virginia military families and veterans who want to understand their rights or who need legal assistance. The Virginia Military and Veteran Legal Resource guide will help servicemembers, military families, and veterans understand the many rights and protections afforded to them by state and federal law, and will help connect them with resources that can assist them when they have legal needs.”
The free 33-page guide covers areas of unique concern to active duty military, military families, and veterans, including:
Including the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA), pension and deferred compensation payments during military leave, continuing healthcare, and leave for military spouses and other family members
Including the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) which limits interest rates on loans, limits sale, foreclosure and seizure of homes, restricts repossession and eviction, and allows for the termination of certain leases
Including the Interstate Compact on Educational Opportunity for Military Children, re-enrollment rights at colleges and universities, and certain tuition discounts for servicemembers, their families, and veterans.
Including deductions and exemptions for certain military pay, extensions on filing, and tax relief for disabled veterans and surviving spouses.
Including legal protections to ensure proceedings are fair to a servicemember who may be called away for service and issues surrounding child custody and visitation.
Voting and Line of Duty Act
Including programs to ensure easy access to the ballot for deployed service members and state benefits available to certain servicemembers killed or disabled in the line of duty.
Access to Legal Services
Including contact information for attorneys and other professionals to assist with benefits issues, criminal matters, family law, and estate planning, including Attorney General Herring’s quarterly Veterans Legal Clinics.
“The Attorney General’s Military & Veteran Legal Resource Guide is a great source of information on a wide variety of subjects that are important to all Active Duty, Guard, Reservists and veterans who reside in the Commonwealth of Virginia,” said Mike Boehme, State Commander, Veterans of Foreign Wars Department of Virginia.”This Resource Guide covers a multitude of subjects that affect the daily lives of our veteran population. It addresses employment, consumer protection, education, state taxes, family law and other laws that impact military families and veterans. There is even a contact and additional online resources list at the very end to help answer questions this guide may not address. I strongly encourage all VSOs to obtain copies of this document for distribution to their respective organization!”
“Military spouses are going to be excited about this new military and veteran legal resource guide because one of the biggest challenges they face as they move from state to state is figuring out the benefits and information available to them,” said Sue Hoppin, founder and president of the National Military Spouse Network. “This guide brings together everything they need to know about Virginia in one place and puts it at their fingertips.”
“The Virginia Military and Veteran Legal Resource Guide is professionally done, comprehensive and I’m sure will serve as invaluable tool for all military personnel whether they be active duty, veterans or retiree,” said Steven Turner, Colonel, USAF (Ret.), President of the Virginia Council of the Military Officers Association of America.
“Legal issues are among the key challenges of military force readiness,” said Elaine G. Luria, retired U.S. Navy Commander, of Norfolk. “The more resources available to assist service members in navigating these matters, the more time and focus they can dedicate to the warfighting mission.”
“This guide recognizes the unique legal challenges often faced by servicemembers and their families and provides an excellent overview of existing protections, benefits and most importantly–assistance and help,” said Alexis N. Stackhouse, Esq., Chair of the Military Law Section of the Virginia State Bar. “We extend our thanks to the Office of the Attorney General for being a steadfast partner in legal education outreach and for helping to increase public awareness of the rights and responsibilities of veterans and servicemembers as we all strive forward in service to our country.”
Attorney General Herring has made the needs of Virginia servicemembers, military families, and veterans a priority in his administration. In his first year he signed the Employer Support for the Guard and Reserve statement and made the OAG a Virginia Values Veterans certified employer. In 2015, he and his team launched a series of quarterly pro bono legal clinics which have provided free estate planning services to nearly 200 veterans and family members during seven events around the state. The next is scheduled for October 25 in Lynchburg.
His reorganized Consumer Protection Section has also focused on the needs of veterans, winning nearly $100 million in debt relief for veterans, including $27.4 million for Virginia consumers, as part of a settlement with retailer USA Discounters. He partnered with the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the North Carolina Attorney General to bring legal action against Freedom Furniture, another retailer accused of deceptive and illegal business practices targeting military families and veterans.
The Virginia Military and Veteran Resource Guide was created using the expertise of in-house OAG attorneys, including Senior Assistant Attorney General Heather Hays Lockerman and Assistant Attorneys General James Flaherty, Anthony Bessette, Anna Birkenheier, Flora Hezel, Mark Kubiak, Elizabeth Myers, and Stephen Sovinsky.