By: Catherine Sanders Reach
A new hotline and network of legal support services will provide critical help to nearly one million Illinois veterans and service members.
Overview and Implementing Legislation
The Illinois Equal Justice Foundation (IEJF) has been charged with the implementation of Public Act 99-0281, an amendment to the Access to Justice Act (2013). The Act created the Illinois Access to Civil Justice Council, with the mandate to create a pilot statewide legal assistance hotline and coordinated network of legal support services for military personnel, veterans, and their families. This effort is funded by a $2 filing fee on all civil filings until 2020. IEJF is responsible for developing, monitoring, and reporting on this project, with leadership from the Illinois Access to Civil Justice Council.
In Illinois, there are approximately 750,000 veterans, 20,000 active service members, and 13,000 members of the Illinois National Guard. There are over 20,000 dependents of service members who were deployed between 9/11/2001 and 5/31/2015. A survey of legal aid providers and veteran serving organizations demonstrates that civil legal services are a highly sought resource by these groups. The top civil legal needs fall into the broad categories of housing, family, and consumer law issues. In addition, veterans often need assistance with VA benefits and appeals and discharge upgrades.
The Illinois Armed Forces Legal Aid Network (IL-AFLAN): 855-IL-AFLAN
IL-AFLAN provides civil legal services across Illinois. It is a network comprised of nine legal aid organizations and law school clinics. Its key features include:
- A statewide hotline that provides information, advice, brief services (including the preparation and review of legal documents), and referrals. The hotline acts as the hub of the network.
- Uniform eligibility guidelines: 80% of Chicago Area Median Income (applies statewide), no dishonorable discharges, spouse or dependent can’t use services in legal action adverse to veteran/service member.
- Current Member Organizations: CARPLS, Center for Disability & Elder Law, Chicago Volunteer Legal Services (CVLS), John Marshall Law, LAF, Land of Lincoln, Loyola Law, Prairie State, SIU Law. See Grant Recipients for more details.
For further information, please contact:
Zach Zarnow, Program Director
Illinois Equal Justice Foundation