Proposals would improve state veteran protections

Several state lawmakers and military members joined Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller Tuesday to discuss a legislative proposal on increasing consumer protections for military service members.

As proposed, the Indiana Service Member Civil Relief Act would provide state remedies for violations of the federal Service Member’s Civil Relief Act, which allows military members who have been deployed to suspend or postpone certain obligations.

Those may include debt collections, foreclosures, evictions, judicial and administrative proceedings, and certain lease or service terminations.

It would also include protection from additional state-specific obligations not covered by the SCRA.

“When Hoosier military members are in the line of duty, they should not have to worry about these complicated, time-consuming and often expensive obligations that could have life-altering consequences,” Zoeller said. “Expanding the SCRA at the state level will allow our service men and women to devote their full attention to military duties and relieve stress on the family members back home.”

Indiana is home to an estimated 550,000 veterans, serving as one of the largest veteran populations in the nation.

Other states—including Illinois and Kentucky—already have laws in place that go along with the SCRA to protect state military members.

“Concerns about repeat deployments of our National Guard troops and Reservists have been brought to our attention,” said Sen. Susan Glick, R-LaGrange. “Those who are deployed time and time again can experience not only physical and mental hardships, but also financial struggles due to extended leaves from their regular deployment.

“This is an issue that needs to be addressed in order to protect the stability of our service members and their families when they return home.”

Zoeller said the proposed Indiana Service Member’s Relief Act would also guard against companies attempting to scam military members.

Last month, Zoeller joined 12 other state attorneys general to take action against Rome Finance—a company that was offering false and misleading credit options to military members.

The company must now pay back nearly $92 million in debt relief to more than 17,000 U.S. service members and others harmed by the company’s schemes.

Almost $1.5 million of that will be paid to 261 Indiana service members.

Major General Martin Umbarger, adjutant general of the Indiana National Guard, said there are companies out there that target the young and the elderly, and this is no different.

To become law, the Indiana General Assembly must approve the Indiana Service Member’s Civil Relief Act during the next session in January.

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