In 2013, an amendment to the Access to Justice Act created the Illinois Access to Civil Justice Council, with the mandate to create a pilot statewide legal assistance hotline and coordinated network of legal support services for military personnel, veterans, and their families. This effort is funded by a $2 filing fee on all civil filings until 2020. The Illinois Equal Justice Foundation (IEJF) was charged with the implementation of this network now called the Illinois Armed Forces Legal Aid Network (IL-AFLAN).

Why is this important for the veteran community? Civil legal problems destabilize families and can be barriers to benefits, housing, and employment. The top civil legal needs fall into the broad categories of housing, family, and consumer law issues. In addition, veterans often need assistance with VA benefits and appeals and discharge upgrades.

IL-AFLAN provides free legal aid services across Illinois utilizing a network of 10 legal aid organizations and law school clinics. In its first year, IL-AFLAN has helped 2650 people, provided 3000 services, provided $1.28 million in benefits to clients, and prevented homelessness for 111 clients. The Veterans Program is proud to partner with IEJF and IL-AFLAN to help connect this vital service to the communities across Illinois.

As far as I know, IL-AFLAN is the most comprehensive civil legal aid network for veterans and members of the military who cannot afford any attorney in the country. In some states there are programs that handle a few areas of law, or that cover a county or two, but IL-AFLAN handles any civil legal issue, including VA benefits appeals and discharge upgrades, across the entire state of. In fact, IL-AFLAN solves Illinois based problems even if the client isn’t currently in Illinois, when, for example, we are working with active duty military who are deployed.

Zach Zarnow, Program Director of IL-AFLAN

To learn more about IL-AFLAN and its affiliated network partners visit: If you or a veteran you know is need of civil legal aid services call the hotline directly at 855-452-3526.