ABA publishes legal guide for military families

The American Bar Association and Random House Reference announce a new book, “The American Bar Association Legal Guide for Military Families, First Edition” to help military members, veterans and their families handle a wide variety of legal issues.

There are an estimated 1.4 million active service members and 23 million veterans. However, many of these military families are not fully aware of their legal rights.

“’The Legal Guide for Military Families’ complements the important work being done by state and local bar associations throughout the nation to provide legal services to military personnel and their families,” said Kim Askew, chair of the ABA Standing Committee on Public Education. “The guide helps military members and their families to understand their rights and protections and to know when to seek legal assistance.”

David G. Ehrhart, a retired Air Force brigadier general and chair of the ABA Standing Committee on Legal Assistance for Military Personnel, added, “Of the many sacrifices made by our nation’s military families, many of which often go unseen, one sacrifice these families should never make is in having a clear understanding of the legal rights and special protections available to them.

“The guide successfully bridges the knowledge gap for service members, veterans and their families between their awareness of legal rights and their need for counsel to help resolve their legal issues,” Ehrhart said.

The guide is written by attorneys who have worked for years with military service members and their families. The user-friendly tips give readers what they need to make informed legal decisions.
For example, the guide:

• Locates state and federal resources, including pro bono clinics and legal aid offices.

• Explains eligibility requirements for veterans benefits.

• Manages family law issues (marriage, divorce, child custody and ex-spouses).

• Details benefits for same-sex spouses.

• Explains estate planning basics and life insurance.

• Explains health care and disability insurance/coverage.

• Advises on negotiation for the sale of homes and vehicles.

• Navigates the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (a federal law that provides protections for military members when they enter active duty).

Trevor Orsinger, an attorney in the General Counsel’s Office at Fermi Research Alliance in Batavia, Ill., and a contributor to the guide, observed: “The United States provides incredible programs that benefit veterans in countless ways. As a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom and a lawyer in Illinois, I understand how difficult it can be to access those benefits. Wading through those processes can be a daunting task, even for the most-experienced service members.

“The ABA’s Legal Guide for Military Families is an outstanding guide and a must-have for any attorney who helps those who have given so much for this country,” added Orsinger, who is also a military attorney in the Illinois Air National Guard.

The book is published by the ABA Division for Public Education in partnership with Random House Reference.

For more information about resources for military families and veterans, visit www.abahomefront.org.

“The American Bar Association Legal Guide for Military Families: Everything You Need to Know About Family Law, Estate Planning, and the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act” costs $14.99; is available as an eBook for $11.99; and those who pre-order can get it for $10.19.

Available wherever books are sold.