Resources for Veterans and Active Military Members
Californians who serve or have served in the military may not know about the laws and programs that can protect and help them when they encounter a legal problem. Here are some resources that can help you find help.
California laws that protect military members
Options to jail time
People whose crimes may be related to sexual trauma, traumatic brain injury, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), substance abuse or mental health problems from military service may have the option of treatment instead of serving time behind bars. Judges have the option of sentencing veterans to treatment for certain classes of crimes under Penal Code 1170.9.
Veterans Treatment Courts
Fifteen counties in California have Veterans Treatment Courts for people facing various charges, from substance abuse to mental illness. These courts help connect veterans to treatment programs through the Veterans Administration and other social services. They include Alameda, Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, San Mateo, Santa Barbara, Santa Clara, Tulare and Ventura counties. More counties are expected to add veterans courts soon.
Assistance with housing and home loans
Homeless vets to struggling homeowners can take advantage of help through state and federal programs. The California Department of Veterans Affairs connects to a range of programs.
Property tax exemptions for disabled vets and surviving spouses
A veteran who is 100 percent disabled or is compensated at the 100 rate due to service-connected injury or disease is exempt from property tax. Find out how to take advantage of this tax exemption.
Federal laws that protect veterans
Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA)
Non-citizen relatives of military members
The SCRA provides protects service members while they are on active duty. Service members returning from duty can use this form to protect themselves from legal action. The law protects families from eviction, foreclosure, automobile repossession and other legal problems related to rental agreements, security deposits, installment contracts, rising credit card interest, civil judicial proceedings, income tax payments and automobile loans.
Family members of active-duty military can seek protection from deportation if they are not citizens of the United States. See the legal memorandum that explains this policy.
Other resources and general guides
California Department of Veterans Affairs
The California Department of Veterans Affairs (CalVet) has information on healthcare, housing, education, employment and benefits, as well as links to information on statewide events called “Stand Downs.” A Stand Down is a locally sponsored event where homeless veterans can find information about social services and other resources.
Swords to Plowshares
A Veterans Service Organization working to help veterans since 1974. The online guides cover how to handle a range of issues important to veterans including pensions, mental health exams, military records and benefits.
Consumer Financial Protection Bureau
Advice for vets on protecting your finances and planning your financial future.
This VA-affiliated government website helps members with legal assistance in obtaining benefits.
Job training and apprenticeships
Job training for female veterans
Department of Veterans Affairs
Swords to Plowshares
National Center for PTSD
Department of Labor
Veterans Crisis Line