CARBONDALE, IL – Our veterans risked their lives for our freedom. After their service, some need help getting military benefits. Thursday, a group of attorneys launched a free legal network for military members. One veteran said it’s about time.

Ed Humphrey served in the army and National Guard for 12 years, and he loved every minute of it. Now he works for AMVETS in Marion, Illinois, helping veterans obtain VA benefits. He said military members go through a lot when they make it back home. A group of attorneys hopes to help by offering free legal services.

“It’s something that southern Illinois has needed for a long time. Legal aid in this area is very limited, especially for veterans,” said Humphrey.

The Illinois Armed Forces Legal Aid Network is the first-ever statewide hotline of attorneys offering legal support services for military members. All you have to do is dial 855-452-3526. Military members can call to talk to an attorney about discharge upgrades, benefits appeals, and any kind of civil legal issues.  Humphrey said that veterans experience a variety of legal issues.

“Divorces, child custody issues. They don’t always have the means to turn to an attorney,” said Humphrey.

Since launching the network, they have solved 400 cases.

“Festering legal problem can have an adverse impact on their ability to move on with their life,”  said Illinois Access to Civil Justice Council Member Ron Spears.

Humphrey’s said it’s great to have this kind of support.

“We served our country. It’s great to know that there is someone there to back us up when we get out,” said Humphrey.

It’s backup that helps provide peace of mind.  The service is free, but to qualify, your income must fall below 80 percent Chicago median income. That about $63,000. You can call the hotline from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.