Wednesday, March 30, 2011

US SEC Financial Education For Military Personnel and Their Families

Free Financial Education
For Military Families!
The SEC's Office of Investor Education and Advocacy has teamed with the FINRA Investor Education Foundation and the Department of Defense on a multi-faceted financial education program serving members of the military and their families.

It's located here: A few of the key resources for military families, or anyone advising a military family, include:
There are plenty more resources at and, best of all, if you have a question or think of a topic that would be helpful to servicemembers, the SEC is asking you to ask questions here. Kudos to the SEC and its partners for helping our military families with financial resiliency!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Denver Bar Association Homeless Veterans Stand Down

For about twenty years, Denver Bar Association attorney volunteers have provided legal information to those attending an annual Homeless Veterans Stand Down. Volunteers also referred people to organizations that provide free legal services in areas such as rental eviction, landlord-tenant issues, child support, disability and warrants.

Standdowns are typically organizated by a U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Regional Office. Providing volunteer legal aid at a standdown is probably within the power of most local bar associations, although it needs to be carefully planned.

Here's a couple of participants talking about this year's program in Denver, and making the pitch for participating in next year's:

Denver Bar Association Offers Legal Information at Homeless Veterans Stand Down
This is a great opportunity for members of the Colorado legal community to make a difference. To learn more about the next Denver Stand Down, see the Denver Bar's list of Volunteer Opportunities.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Hiring Veterans: A Step-by-Step Toolkit for Employers

Something helpful for law offices looking to hire somebody, or to help a client looking to do better in this area, from
"Interested in developing or enhancing a Veterans hiring initiative for your company but don't know where to begin?

This Toolkit can help. It is designed to assist and educate employers who have made the  proactive decision to include transitioning Service Members, Veterans and wounded warriors in their recruitment and hiring initiatives.

The U.S. Department of Labor recognizes that employers can sometimes find it difficult to navigate the plethora of Veterans hiring resources available to them. So, this Toolkit was developed to simplify the process and put valuable resources at your fingertips. It serves to pinpoint helpful tools and outline some important steps to take when designing a Veterans hiring initiative that works for your particular business.
Recognizing that each employer is unique, this guide allows you to select from promising practices and other resources that employers are using to successfully welcome talented and skilled Veterans into their companies. Whether you are looking to create a plan from scratch or retool existing efforts, we encourage you to reference this guide and design an initiative that works for you."


Saturday, March 26, 2011

Tax Laws Benefit Troops, Families, Says ANG

Servicemembers (including Guard and Reserve recently separated from active duty) have some tax advantages they should consider using, according to a Defense Department tax expert cited in the timely article "Tax Laws Benefit Troops, Families"

Rather than quote the whole article, let me simply urge you go read the article on the ARNG website.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

May 23 Deadline for Yellow Ribbon Agreements: Contact your Alma Mater!

A recent VA Press Release:

"Schools Encouraged to Join VA’s Yellow Ribbon Program
Colleges and Universities Must Sign Agreements before May 23
WASHINGTON – Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki is encouraging interested colleges and universities to join the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) in participating in the Post-9/11 GI Bill Yellow Ribbon Program for the upcoming 2011-2012 academic year.

“Through shared responsibility, VA and our Nation’s colleges and universities are working together to ensure that our Servicemembers, Veterans and dependents receive the education benefits they have earned,” said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki. “I strongly encourage any interested school to formally sign up with us before the May 23 deadline to guarantee their participation.”

Interested schools should visit VA’s Web site for more information at , where they will find a copy of a letter recently sent to all school presidents and department heads, an agreement form, instructions, and an easy-to-follow checklist.

The Yellow Ribbon Program is a provision of the Post-9/11 GI Bill that allows degree-granting institutions to voluntarily enter into a formal agreement with VA to fund tuition and fee expenses that exceed either the annual $17,500 private institutions cap recently instituted by Congress or the in-state tuition and fees charged out-of-state residents attending public institutions.

The institution can contribute up to 50 percent of those expenses and VA will match this additional funding for eligible students. This may enable qualified students to attend school tuition-free.

This Post-9/11 GI Bill program is available for Servicemembers and Veterans at the 100 percent benefit level, specifically those who have served at least 36 months on active duty or served at least 30 continuous days and were discharged due to a service-related injury after Sept. 11, 2001. The benefit can be transferred to eligible family members.

Effective Aug. 1, 2011, under a new law passed by Congress, there is a cap on the maximum payment of tuition and fees at $17,500 per academic year for private and foreign schools, a change from the previous Post-9/11 GI Bill. The law also provides for full payment of in-state tuition and fees (undergraduate, graduate or doctoral) at public institutions.

The institutions of higher learning (IHL) requesting participation in the Yellow Ribbon Program must enter into an agreement with VA each year, whether to renew participation from the previous academic year or enter first year agreements.

For the 2010-2011 academic year, VA signed more than 1,200 Yellow Ribbon agreements with IHLs across the nation. For a complete listing of the schools presently participating, go to .

Additional information about the Post-9/11 GI Bill, including upcoming changes to the Post-9/11 GI Bill based on recent legislation can be obtained by visiting VA’s Web site at  and  or by calling 1-800-GIBILL-1 or 1-888-442-4551.

Things to do:
  • If you're interested in attending a school, ask immediately whether it has a Yellow Ribbon agreement and, if not, encourage it to apply immediately.
  • If you're the alumnus of a school, ask whether it has one and, if it doesn't, encourage it to apply. This may not benefit you directly but it'll be good for your school and for the veteran community.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Military Pensions & Retirement Benefits: Dividing It Up Right (Alaska CLE)

The Alaska Bar Association CLE "Military Pensions & Retirement Benefits: Dividing It Up Right" covers material that is largely based in federal law, and may therefore be useful to practitioners everywhere.

  • A comprehensive examination of military retirement and related benefits, including medical, disability, and survivorship matters
  • Techniques in attacking and defending matters of jurisdiction, retirement shares, and the burden of paying for survivor’s benefits
  • Issues of valuation, distribution, and traps relating to early and late retirement
  • Alphabet soup of acronyms, including TSP, REDUX, SBP, and DEERS
  • Partition actions, foreign divorces, bankruptcy, dealing with Reservists, and more  
Program Recording:
You can order the program on CD, DVD or via download at

The Documentation is Available Free:
2009-013 Military Pensions & Retirement Benefits.pdf

The first few pages are taken up with a powerpoint of amusing quotes, but don't be fooled: the meat of the document has several interest and useful essays on the subjects above.

Marshal Willick is the principal of the Willick Law Group, an A/V rated Family Law firm in Las Vegas, Nevada, and practices in trial and appellate Family Law. He is a Certified Family Law Specialist, a Fellow of both the American and International Academies of Matrimonial Lawyers, former Chair of the Nevada Bar Family Law Section and former President of the Nevada chapter of the AAML. He has authored several books and articles on Family Law and retirement benefits issues, and was managing editor of the Nevada Family Law Practice Manual.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Georgia Advocates Military Legal Assistance Program

The State Bar of Georgia Military Legal Assistance Program partners with the National Guard JAG Corps, Military Legal Services Offices, and civil legal aid and pro bono programs in Georgia to assure coordinated services for military households.

Join this site if you are a volunteer attorney, legal services advocate, law student or faculty advising low income and disadvantaged clients. There are resources here to help you assist service members and veterans.

The State Bar of Georgia Military Legal Assistance Program addresses the legal needs of veterans and servicemembers. The Military Legal Assistance Program promotes pro bono and other opportunities for Georgia lawyers to connect with veterans and service members, produces specialized training and other support for lawyers, and connects Georgia lawyers with veterans and servicemembers who have legal problems.

Our Partners:
The State Bar of Georgia Pro Bono Project
The State Bar of Georgia Military and Veterans Law Section
The State Bar of Georgia Real Property Law Section
The Georgia Legal Services Program


Monday, March 21, 2011

California Veterans & Military Law Help: New Search For Local Resources

California Law Help can help veterans and military personnel search for legal resources near where you live. Simply go to its subtopics page, and enter your zip code, city or county. LawHelpCalifornia will return a list of resources in the area you specify, on useful topic such as
  • Reservists and National Guard
  • Veterans' Benefits
  • Veterans' Education and Tuition Benefits
  • Veterans' Employment and Financial Rights
  • Veterans' Health
  • Veteran and Military Families
  • Veteran and Servicemember Rights in Housing and Home Loans
  • Veterans' Tax Issues
  • Senior Veterans
  • Women Veterans
The URL is awkwardly long but you can get to it here.
Well Done!

Friday, March 18, 2011

The American Servicemembers And Veterans Survival Guide: Free PDF!

Free! Why not get it?
The American Veterans and Servicemembers Survival Guide is a web-based book, available free for download at  - see the link on the left side of their webpage.

As reviewed by Veterans for Common Sense (whose executive director contributed to the work):
"The new Survival Guide is a follow-up to the 1985 national bestseller, The Viet Vet Survival Guide. Just as the earlier book was a must-read for Vietnam veterans, the new book will prove an invaluable resource for the 1.7 million servicemembers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, the 24 million veterans of past conflicts, and the families of all our troops and veterans. Unlike the earlier guide, the new Survival Guide is free.

The new book is as much a roadmap as a reference manual, detailing the benefits, assistance and resources available as well as the step-by-step directions for navigating the bureaucracies that serve our troops and veterans. The new Survival Guide contains 28 chapters, including 17 for veterans and their families and 11 for active-duty servicemembers, National Guard members and reservists, and their families. From legal to health services, job assistance to women’s issues, the new Survival Guide is designed to meet everyone’s needs."
You can get a sense of the work from the introduction:
"Life is unfair — John F. Kennedy

This book will help you survive in the world of the veteran. This world, like the world at large, is not a fair world. Your country asked you to take years out of your life and to risk life itself. But when you came back, it gave you some praise but little comfort. Instead, it gave you the VA.

Though there are other federal agencies that benefit the veteran, and though there are many state programs for veterans, the VA (formerly the Veterans Administration and now the Department of Veterans Affairs, but always called the VA) is more important to most vets than all the rest combined.

But the VA isn’t what it should be. It’s a bureaucracy. Full of programs that cover enough vets and programs that don’t, full of people who care and people who don’t, full of prompt responses and endless delays and full of rules, rules, rules.

VA medical care can repair your body. VA educational benefits can put you through school. VA disability compensation and pensions can pay many of your bills. VA loan guarantees can make it possible for you to buy a home.

But to get the most out of the VA, or the Small Business Administration or the veterans department in your home state, you have to know what you’re doing. You have to know the benefits to which you’re entitled, the problems you may face and how to solve them and where to go for help."

You can download the whole book as a single PDF (large)
link but it may be better to take it chapter-by-chapter, covering each topic as you need it:

Chapters include:
  • Contents and Introduction, Chapter 1: Basic Survival Skills
  • Chapter 2: The Department of Veterans Affairs
  • Chapter 3: Service-Connected Compensation
  • Chapter 4: Need-Based Pension for Low-Income Veterans or Survivors
  • Chapter 5: Explaining the VA Claims and Appeals Process
  • Chapter 6: VA Attemps to Recover “Overpayments”
  • Chapter 7: Educational Assistance and Vocational Rehabilitation
  • Chapter 8: VA Housing Programs
  • Chapter 9: VA Medical Care
  • Chapter 10: VA Programs for Veterans’ Family Members and Survivors
  • Chapter 11: Employment, Self-Employment and the Small Business Administration
  • Chapter 12: Re-Employment Rights and Associated Rights for Time Spent in Military Service
  • Chapter 13: Homeless Veteran Programs
  • Chapter 14: Veterans in the Criminal Justice System
  • Chapter 15: Upgrading Less-Than-Fully-Honorable Discharges
  • Chapter 16: Correcting Military Records and Related Issues
  • Chapter 17: Getting Your Military Records
  • Chapter 18: Early Discharge or Separation
  • Chapter 19: Disability Separation and Retirement
  • Chapter 20: Advice for Families and Caregivers of Wounded Servicemembers and Veterans
  • Chapter 21: The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA)
  • Chapter 22: Benefits for Active-Duty Servicemembers’ Families
  • Chapter 23: Voting Rights Issues
  • Chapter 24: National Guard and Reserve Call-Up Issues
  • Chapter 25: Family Law Issues for Servicemembers
  • Chapter 26: Women Servicemembers and Veterans
  • Chapter 27: Overview of the Uniform Code of Military Justice
  • Chapter 28: Immigration, Obtaining U.S. Citizenship through Military Service
  • Appendix
Kudos to the authors for this notable work ... it may be available directly at but I would suggest going to the site of its host and look around - it's full of great stuff! 

(This post updates an earlier post)

Anytime/Web - Introduction to Federal Veterans Benefits Practice

This web-based audio/visual introduction to federal veterans benefits practice comes from Legal Aid Association of California:

This is approved for 1 credit in California, but the content is basically nationwide; it's quite possible you can apply for credit in your jurisdiction.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Fiscal 2010 Sexual Assault in the Military Report Released

DOD press releast March 17, 2011
The Department of Defense today released the “Fiscal Year 2010 Annual Report on Sexual Assault in the Military.” This year’s report also incorporates results from the quadrennial “2010 Workplace and Gender Relations Survey of Active Duty Members,” an anonymous and voluntary survey conducted by the Defense Manpower Data Center, which measures gender issues among members of the armed forces.

Over the last two years, the department has made significant efforts to prevent and respond to sexual assault. While it appears these efforts are beginning to payoff, there is still work to do to integrate and continue our efforts across the department and the services.

“The department’s position on sexual assault is clear: one sexual assault is one too many. Sexual assault has absolutely no place in today’s armed forces. We are firmly committed to doing our best to ensure that those who have stepped forward to protect our country are themselves protected within the ranks,” said Clifford L. Stanley, under secretary of defense (personnel and readiness).

Currently, DoD is reviewing and analyzing the Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office organizational structure and programs to develop a more comprehensive approach to prevent and handle sexual assaults in an integrated and uniform manner across the services.

The renewed focus of this review will include policies related to:

- Privileged communications between victims and their advocates;
- Expedited unit/organization transfers for victims;
- Access to legal counsel for victims; and
- Sexual assault experts in UCMJ proceedings.

The complete report is available at . For specific information regarding the military departments, contact the Army at 703-697-2564, the Navy at 703-697-5342, and the Air Force at 703-695-0640.
SOURCE: Aggregates Legal Information for Warrior Community

Stateside Legal is a new website aggregation legal information for our warrior community. According to its About Us Page:
"This website is for members of the military, veterans, their families and advocates. Our goal is to help you:
  • access benefits
  • find free legal help, and
  • better understand your legal issues
Many websites provide information for military households or veterans. Here our goal is to index the best legal information available in one easy-to-use site. We have also added our own interactive forms, videos, and legal analysis. We try to deliver answers to your questions using Plain English. How are we doing? Please help us improve our site by using the feedback form.
Who is behind it?

Two primary partnering organizations have worked together to create the Stateside Legal website. These organizations are Pine Tree Legal Assistance of Maine and the Arkansas Legal Services Partnership. In addition, the website has received help from many volunteers, including private attorneys, members of the Judge Advocate General [JAG] Corps, civilian Legal Assistance Attorneys, and veteran service officers. See a list of our advisors.

Who pays for it?

The Legal Services Corporation,  provided the initial funding.
To maintain and expand this website will require additional and ongoing funding.
  • If you would like to support this effort as an individual on a tax-deductible basis, click here.
  • If you are interested in getting more information about ways to support this effort as a business or organization, please contact Pine Tree Legal Assistance Executive Director Nan Heald at 207-774-4753.
What about local help that I'm not finding here?
This is a national website focusing initially on federal programs. Many laws vary from state to state. We hope to expand our state-specific information as time goes on. If you are aware of resources in your State that should be included in this site, please let us know.

Also, you may be able to find more state-specific information on your statewide legal services website."

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Illionois Army and Air National Guard Legal Assistance for Soldiers and Airmen

The Illionois Army and Air National Guard provides some legal help to servicemembers, veterans and their families. According to its Legal Assistance for Soldiers and Airmen page:
"Illinois National Guard judge advocates provide legal assistance to military personnel, retirees and their qualified dependents in accordance with applicable Army and Air Force legal assistance regulations. Legal assistance available to traditional (part-time, M-Day Soldiers) National Guard Soldiers/Airmen primarily consists of:

  • Pre-mobilization legal planning
  • Preparation of simple wills and powers of attorney
  • Briefing and counseling on the Soldiers and Sailors' Civil Relief Act of 1940
  • Reemployment Rights
Traditional Guard Soldiers/Airmen seeking legal assistance services should contact their command's legal office. Legal Assistance is by appointment only. For information on making an appointment, contact the Illinois Department of Military Affairs, Judge Advocate General's office by phone at 217-761-3510, DSN: 555-3510, or

Illinois National Guard judge advocates cannot represent service members in criminal or civil courts.
The webpage suggests that the help is not limited to Illinois Guard members only, but it may be available to servicemembers and veterans generally, which is a pretty generous offer. It is not general-purpose legal help, but focussed on the issues mentioned above; it may be unreasonable to expect any office to handle every legal matter. For more information, read the  Legal Assistance for Soldiers and Airmen page.

Kudos to the Illionois Guard for this program!

Arizona Bar Association Military Legal Assistance Committee as of March 2011

The mission of the Arizona Bar Association Military Legal Assistance Committee is to address legal issues and needs associated with military personnel and veterans and their families in Arizona.

According to its charter, the Military Legal Assistance Committee:
  • Assesses current legal services available to military personnel, veterans and their families
  • Determines where gaps in legal services exist
  • Makes recommendations to the Board of Governors to address those gaps
  • Serves as a focal point for legal issues affecting military personnel, veterans and their families in Arizona.

Servicemembers, veterans and their families looking for help should first check the Committee's useful page of Military Legal Assistance Resources.
The Committee has participated in numerous projects, according to its recent minutes:
  • two StandDowns in Phoenix;
  • the James E. Rogers College of Law at the University of Arizona’s program that provides defense counsel for the Veterans Treatment Court in Tucson;
  • the Maricopa County Superior Court Veterans Court;
  • two legal clinics at Phoenix School of Law;
  • more veteran-centric programs underway at Arizona State University;
  • a full-day CLE program on military law scheduled for the State Bar Annual Convention.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Be A VA Watchdog

Larry Scott of VA Watchdog, a website dedicated to monitoring VA practices, writes:

"This is a project I can't do alone. I need your help.

"Keeping an eye on the VA" takes more than one pair of eyes. The tons of paperwork generated each year are impossible to wade through.

That's where you come in. Let me know of rules changes you think are important. Tell me about policy changes.

If you run into someone at the VA who says, "This is the rule," and you don't agree...let me know.

From claims to healthcare treatment your information is needed.

A reminder...this is not a place to just get angry and tell me how bad things are. Be specific. And, let's see if we can make them better.

The employees of the VA are dedicated people who are overworked and underpaid! They need our help, too. They need better funding so they can better serve us.

And, if you are a VA employee and want to "chat" about something...your anonymity is assured.

If you do not want to use an existing email account to communicate, it is suggested that use use Google's Gmail and set up a free anonymous account.

Any and all questions or information can be sent to my email and I'll respond to every one of them.

Your input will provide the information for articles you will be able to read here and other venues. Together we can help keep the veteran community informed.


Larry Scott"

VA Watchdog is a good source in service to our warrior community.
From the ABA Military Pro Bono Project:
"A Navy sailor stationed in Florida had two child support orders for the same child wrongly entered in an Illinois court, resulting in a significant reduction to his income, as he paid double child support. The second order was entered while he was deployed to Afghanistan. The Military Pro Bono Project found a volunteer attorney in Illinois who was able to resolve the child support withholding issue for the servicemember."
The ABA Military Pro Bono Project has posted volunteer opportunities on behalf of servicemembers in all parts of the country. To learn more about the Military Pro Bono Project and the latest volunteer needs, visit .


Monday, March 14, 2011

Mar 24/Seattle, WA - The History of Military commissions in American Jurisprudence

Join Vice Admiral MacDonald as he discusses the differences in the processes of military commissions and federal court proceedings. He will compare legal process and rights of defendants in the two courts and use cases from history to compare and contrast. The presentation will include time for questions and further discussion.

"The History of Military commissions in American Jurisprudence"

WSBA Legal Assistance for Military Personnel Section
March 24, 201112:30 p.m. - 2:30 p.m.

USCG Base Seattle
1519 Alaskan Way S, Seattle

CLE Credits:
2 general credits


Click here for further details and online registration