Effort will focus on recruiting volunteer lawyers to handles cases for free
NASHVILLE, Aug. 7, 2013 -- The Tennessee Bar Association (TBA) has joined a nationwide effort to increase the number of lawyers committed to providing needed legal support to servicemembers, veterans and their families. Organized by Army OneSource, the Military Legal Assistance Campaign is focused on identifying and training volunteers who can assist families while a servicemember is deployed, and help servicemembers when they return from overseas duty. Through its Access to Justice Committee, the TBA is recruiting lawyers now through September to provide assistance to Tennessee servicemembers and veterans.
While servicemembers are deployed, families back at home often face difficult financial pressures. Creditors, bill collectors, landlords and lenders can intensify stress and strain on spouses, children and adult dependents. There are legal remedies available. Since 2003, the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) has protected those on active duty from a range of actions that might bring unnecessary or unfair financial stress on family back home. Specifically, SCRA prohibits lease terminations, mortgage actions and liens from being enforced, and provides a reprieve from pending trials. Lawyers can help families take advantage of these protections while their loved one is serving abroad.
In addition, the U.S. Army estimates that 37,469 Tennesseans currently deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan will be returning home over the next 17 months. Unfortunately, many of them will experience difficulties reintegrating into local communities and adjusting to daily life. Some will face legal issues such as foreclosure, bankruptcy, divorce and child custody. Others will face challenges with reemployment and dealing with the stress of combat and long deployments.
“The sacrifices made by our servicemembers, as well as their families, are hard to fathom,” said TBA President Cindy Wyrick. “When legal issues add to these challenges, lawyers have a unique opportunity to provide assistance. I urge my colleagues to participate in this important program.”
There are many ways for lawyers to get involved, including participating in legal clinics, providing pro bono representation, mentoring other attorneys who want to participate and speaking at military events about protections and resources available to servicemembers.
Lawyers interested in volunteering may sign up online at http://militarylegalsupport.com. Once registered, volunteers will have access to free online educational materials on topics such as military culture and family law.
Wyrick’s theme for the year -- “Together We Make a Difference”-- is focused on harnessing the experience and ingenuity of lawyers across the state to improve the profession and serve the public. TBA’s participation in the Military Legal Assistance Campaign is one of several new initiatives designed to increase access to legal services.