If you're a military family member in hot legal water, a new project may soon be able to offer you some help.
Justice for Military Families is an ambitious new project from the Military Spouse JD Network (MSJDN), an organization made up entirely of military spouse attorneys. Aimed at connecting military spouses and family members with free (or "pro bono") legal help in times of need, the project will fill a void that no other organization or group does.
“We have access to a group of people with very specified skills in our military spouse attorney members.” said Josie Beets, Pro Bono Director for the Military Spouse JD Network (MSJDN). “We wanted a way to provide our members with a way of serving the military community. When we looked for an existing national organization providing free legal help to military families, we couldn’t find one. So we started our own.”
To get the project started MSJDN announced a partnership with the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS), an organization aimed at helping surviving family members navigate life after a military loss.
"The typical questions from TAPS involve benefits, wills, probate, and similar issues," Beets said. "TAPS serves such a broad group of people, and we're trying to find solutions for every case they send our way. We've done everything from helping a spouse get a piece of property that was in her husband (servicemember's) name into hers after his death to giving advice about benefits to a grandmother raising grandchildren of a fallen servicemember."
For the time being, MSJDN will only take cases referred by TAPS. But in six months they hope to launch a virtual pro bono clinic, where users can post questions and get answers from MSJDN member experts.
"We hope that providing legal feedback will solve a fair amount of issues, but for people who need individual pro bono help, we hope connect them with pro bono attorneys," Beets said.
The project isn't just good for the military family community -- it's good for MSJDN's members as well. Only 34 percent of the organization's 900 members are currently working a job requiring a law license. Justice for Military Families provides them with a way to keep current on the law in service to their community.