CHICAGO – Illinois veterans, active-duty service members, reservists, and their dependents will now have access to a new legal hotline thanks to legislation backed by state Rep. Silvana Tabares, D-Chicago, which will provide assistance in matters including consumer, housing and family law.
“We have a duty to make sure our veterans are treated with dignity and respect after they return home, and by helping them access affordable legal services, we can help with this transition,” Tabares said. “Minority veterans have historically faced discrimination and mistreatment, so it’s important we connect these individuals with legal representatives who can help them protect their rights.”
The Illinois Armed Forces Legal Aid Network (IL-AFLAN) was created by legislation supported by Tabares in 2015. Under House Bill 3933, the Illinois Equal Justice Foundation, a not-for-profit organization founded by the Illinois State Bar Association and Chicago Bar Association, is tasked with administering a pilot program, launched this month, that provides free civil legal aid to veterans and active duty military personnel.
IL-AFLAN operates a statewide hotline that is staffed by attorneys from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, to assist veterans with discharge upgrades, benefits appeals and civil legal problems such as family, housing and consumer issues. Veterans can call the hotline at 855-452-3526 or 855-IL-AFLAN. Former and active duty military members with an income below 80 percent of the Chicago area median income are eligible for services. For a family of four, this translates into $63,200 annually.
“For veterans and their families struggling to make ends meet, it can be nearly impossible to afford a lawyer if the need arises,” Tabares said. “I am proud our veterans and service members will now be able to access critical legal services regardless of how much they earn.”