Legal assistance is available to active and retired service members and their families at no-cost. Military lawyers are otherwise known as Judge Advocates (JAG). Depending on your military installation and military branch of service, the legal services may vary, so it is always recommended to visit your installation’s legal office to better understand what they have to offer. Although representation in court is generally not offered, legal assistance offices are located on almost every base, ship and installation with free legal assistance advice available on various topics:
- Family Law (Marriage, Divorce, Adoption, Alimony, etc.)
- Contracts and Lease Review
- Landlord/tenant disputes (leases, evictions, deposits)
- Service member rights and responsibilities (i.e. Service Member Civil Relief Act)
In most cases if JAG is unable to resolve the case or a specialized attorney is needed, they will refer you to a civilian attorney. To find the nearest office to you visit one of the following websites:
Armed Forces Legal Assistance Directory
Navy and Marine Corps
Today the GI Bill focuses on monetary aid to assist in paying for both undergraduate and graduate college tuition, housing, books, and other educational fees. You can choose between the Montgomery GI Bill or the Post-9/11 GI Bill.
Benefits through the Montgomery GI Bill are available to enlisted members in the U.S. Armed Forces. After completing the minimum service obligation, active duty members who enroll contribute $100 per month for 12 months and are then entitled to receive a monthly education benefits. The Montgomery GI Bill Selected Reserve is available to reservists who have a six-year obligation in the Selected Reserve who are actively drilling. You have 10 years after leaving active duty to receive these benefits.
The Post-9/11 GI Bill is available to those who were active duty with at least 90 days of cumulative service after September 11, 2001. This bill provides up to 36 months of benefits and fees are paid to the school directly, with only monthly housing allowance and books and supply money going to the student. You have up to 15 years after active duty to receive these benefits. Veterans also qualify for this bill if they have been honorably discharged. Those discharged due to a service-related disability are eligible if they have served for at least 30 days at the time of discharge.
Under the Post-9/11 GI Bill, service members are able to transfer all or some unused benefits to their spouse or dependent children. This transfer must be completed while still on active duty and the family member must be enrolled in DEERS.
For more information on the GI Bill please use the following links:
Montgomery GI Bill
Post-9/11 GI Bill
Post-9/11 GI Bill Pamphlet
GI Bill Eligibility
Transferring to Dependents
MyCAA, Military Spouse Career Advancement Account Scholarship is a workforce development program that provides up to $4,000 of tuition assistance to eligible military spouses. With the scholarship, military spouses are able to pursue licenses, certificates, or associate degrees at any academic institution approved for participation in the MyCAA Scholarship.
The scholarship pays the tuition costs for the education including the cost of the training courses and program examinations, as well as the costs for obtaining a license, certificate, or certification. For more information regarding MyCAA and how to apply visit their website.
VA Loans provide veterans with a federally guaranteed home with no down payment. Designed as a way to provide housing and assistance for veterans and their families, the VA guarantees a maximum of 25 percent of a home loan amount up to $113,275. More than 25 million veterans and service personnel are eligible for VA financing. Veterans are eligible if they have served on active duty and have a discharge other than dishonorable after a minimum of 90 days of service during wartime or 181 continuous days during peacetime. Selected reserves and National Guard are eligible with certain criteria if they have completed a total of 6 years of service. More information on eligibility and VA Loans can be found here.
PCS is the Military abbreviation for a Permanent Change of Station, which is the official relocation of the active duty service member and their family. There are several types of PCS moves, each with their own separate rules: DITY (Do-it-yourself), Partial DITY, and Standard move. A DITY move is when you move everything yourself, usually by either renting a moving truck, using your own personal vehicles or hiring a moving company yourself. Partial DITY is when the military will move most of your belongings but you have some things you want to move yourself. Lastly, the standard move is when the military will move everything for you. They send a truck and movers who pack, load, haul, unload and unpack everything for you. The government also compensates most costs associated with the move such as temporary lodging expenses, household goods and vehicle shipment, as well as personal and dependent travel.
Moving with pets can be incredibly stressful, especially during overseas PCS moves. Luckily tons of resources are available to service members to assist them in the process of caring for their pet. If you are moving overseas, it is highly recommended you check with the base you are moving to, Department of Agriculture, and the consulate of the country you are moving to for more specific information regarding health and vaccination records, transport of your pet, and quarantine timelines.
U.S. Army Legal/JAG
“Benefits.” U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
“VA Loans: Frequently Asked Questions.” VA Loans.com