New Legal Resource Guide to Help Military in Washington

Sep 11, 2013

The state attorney general has compiled a new Military and Veteran Legal Resource Guide aimed at helping active-duty soldiers and veterans learn about their legal rights.

Military personnel and veterans have a number of special legal rights when it comes to such things as interest rates on home loans or getting out of rental agreements. The problem, according to Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson, is too many people are unaware of these protections.

At a news conference to announce the release of the guide, Ferguson said even he didn’t know about some protections for military personnel and vets.

He says when a settlement was reached in 2012 with JP Morgan Chase, Bank of America and other “mortgage servicers” to resolve their violations of state and federal consumer protection laws, veterans were singled out for relief.

“Within that Wall Street bank settlement, there are specific aspects of that geared towards veterans in a pretty significant way,” Ferguson said.

For example, if someone was wrongfully foreclosed on while he or she was deployed, the bank has to pay the service member for lost equity, plus interest. 

Lt. Col. Matthew Cooper, deputy staff judge advocate with the Washington National Guard, says the one-stop shopping legal guide will be useful. Cooper says dealing with such things as housing and child custody issues can be a real problem for people in the Armed Forces.

“A military member with unresolved legal issues can detract from a unit’s mission readiness and distract the focus of the military member when he or she should be concentrating on their mission,”  Cooper said.

The new resource guide, available online and in booklet form, covers everything from consumer protection laws to tips on how veterans can get a college tuition waiver at a Washington college or university.