ROCK ISLAND, Ill. – Illinois veterans, active-duty service members, reservists and their dependents will be able to access free legal help for consumer, housing and family law issues through a statewide hotline and network of legal support services launched earlier this month, according to state Rep. Mike Halpin, D-Rock Island.

“There is a great need for civil legal services among veterans struggling to get back on their feet after returning from deployment,” said Halpin. “While those with limited resources have access to attorneys who will represent them at no cost in criminal matters, access to civil courts is oftentimes more limited. For former service members who risked their lives to defend our freedom, a lack of financial resources should not be a barrier to legal protection.”

The Illinois Armed Forces Legal Aid Network (IL-AFLAN) was created through the passage of House Bill 3933 in 2015. Under the law, 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.