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New legal resources for active-duty military

Understand your legal rights

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"The law can be an intimidating thing, but our goal is to put all of these relevant laws in one easy resource so they can understand what the laws are and how they are protected," said Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson during a Sept. 10 press conference announcing the release of a new veterans legal guide. "There are veterans in my family, including my late father and both of my grandfathers, so the military has always had a prominent role in my life."

The Military and Veterans Legal Resource Guide is intended to help all veterans, military personnel and their families understand their legal rights and protections. Given that Washington has the 12th largest veteran population in the country and a high number of National Guardsmen, reservists and active-duty servicemembers who reside in the state, the need for more information and reliable resources is constantly growing.

"We know that Washington state veterans and military have a friend looking out for them," said Lourdes Alvarados-Ramos, deputy director of the Washington State Department of Veterans Affairs. "This resource will go a long way to helping them."

The guide, which is part of a larger initiative in the Attorney General's office to enhance efforts to assist veterans and military personnel, covers everything from consumer laws and protection to housing laws and protection, as well as information on how to seek legal assistance.

"As a JAG officer, part of my job is to explain legal rights to servicemembers and families," said Lt. Col. Matt Cooper, Judge Advocate with the Washington Army National Guard, who was also in attendance. "Education about available legal rights is important."

The guide is available online, however, hard copies will be mailed out to Veterans of Foreign Wars and American Legion posts throughout the state. Copies of the guide will also be distributed at other veteran events, like the recent Seattle Stand Down to combat veteran homelessness.

"Veterans are often the last to look for services and are unaware what is even available to them," Alvarados-Ramos stated. "They don't all have smartphones or internet access, so we need to make sure they get to see this."

"There are going to be more people leaving the military and in need of services due to the downsizing," she continued. "It needs to be a community effort to accommodate those needs."

To view the new Military and Veterans Legal Resource Guide, visit www.atg.wa.gov/VeteranMilitaryResources.aspx#.Ui9lNjl1PzJ. For additional questions and guidance, contact Ferguson's office via the website.

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