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DOJ Seeking Troop Complaints, Feedback

FORT CAMPBELL, Kentucky -- The Department of Justice want troops and military law officials to pass on their complaints about bad lending practices and financial predators, one top DOJ official told soldiers at a town hall event here today.

"What we're trying to do through visits like this one is to hear from service members about the concerns and issues that thevety face that we at the Department of Justice might be able to help address. To hear from the lawyers, including the JAG lawyers who we've met with here, who work with soldiers on those issues and to take that back to see how we might improve the work that we're doing on behalf of this population," Stuart Delery, acting associate attorney general, told reporters before the event.

The town hall meeting marks the one-year anniversary of the DOJ's service members and veterans initiative, which focuses on case enforcement over financial protections and education on troops' consumer and legal rights under the Service Members Civil Relief Act (SCRA).

A series of legislative proposals presented by the DOJ to Congress late last year seeks to amend existing legislation to expand service member and military family legal protections. Among those amendments are measures that would increase penalties to employers, rental and lending businesses that violate the SCRA, and give military family members expanded state residency rights. That legislation has yet to be fully considered.

"The package ... that we proposed last year came out of our experience doing this work on behalf of service members but also from visits like the one we're conducting today," Delery said. "So that's one way in which visits like this one to installations around the country have proved incredibly valuable. It tells us problems that we might need work to address, including potentially through legislation."

Delery told soldiers at the town hall that the DOJ is relaunching its Servicemembers.gov site to include expanded assistance to service members looking for legal help, education and information about ongoing pertinent cases.

"Servicemembers.gov is a work in progress and we are just at the beginning of a long process toward creating the best possible educational resource for you and your families, and for the people who want to help protect your rights," he said. "We look forward to feedback from the military community as we work to make the website as useful as possible."

The town hall meeting, which was attended by about 125 soldiers, is the fifth such event held over the past year, a DOJ public affairs official said.

-- Amy Bushatz can be reached at amy.bushatz@military.com.

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