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Service members in search of relief

By Lance Cpl. Rubin Tan | | August 4, 2011

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The Servicemember’s Civil Relief Act allows service members to suspend certain civil obligations in order to relieve stress on their dependents and themselves while serving on active duty. Some statutes from the act include the protection against non-judicial repossession or foreclosure on vehicles and other property purchased prior to service, delay of civil suits, residential lease terminations and upon request, reduction of interest rates on credit incurred prior to military service down to 6 percent. “Service members should care about the [SCRA] because it is the principle statue protecting them from various harms,” said Michael Archer, the regional legal assistance officer for the east coast. When service members aren’t informed about the SCRA they can be taken advantage of financially by being over charged in mortgage payments or by having their home illegally foreclosed on while deployed. “We do not want to have service members harmed in their civil affairs simply because they have chosen to answer their nation’s call of duty,” Archer said. In an interview with NBC, Chase Bank officials said, 4,000 troops may have been overcharged and the bank improperly foreclosed on the homes of 14 military families. One service member who was overcharged by a lender is Capt. Jonathon Rowles, a Marine All-Weather Fighter Attack Squadron 224 weapons system officer. Rowles applied for a reduction of interest on a home mortgage he held prior to joining. With the incorrect interest still on the mortgage, a gap of despair began to grow with every payment. Years later the family began to receive collection calls from debt collectors stating a balance of over $10,000 was due. As Rowle’s credit began to affect his job and family, he went to a law firm to get his case settled. “It is important to understand your finances and to know the benefits you are entitled to so [service members] can be proficient and focused on their jobs,” Rowles said. If you feel your SCRA rights are being violated or want to learn more about your rights, contact your legal assistance officer on the Air Station at 228-7548 and 228-2559 for Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, or visit www.justice.gov/crt/spec_topics/military/scra.php
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