There are a number of California laws that protect current servicemembers and veterans, and program that canhelp them when they encounter a legal problem.
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 U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and California social service agencies. 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.
Veterans, including the homeless and those who are 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 percent rate due to service-connected injury or disease is exempt from property tax. Find out how to take advantage of this tax exemption.
Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA)
The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act 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.
The California Department of Veterans Affairs (CalVet) has information on healthcare, housing, education, employment and benefits. Sign up for a listserv that lets you know about events where homeless veterans can find information about social services and other resources.
Swords to Plowshares is 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.
Advice for vets on protecting your finances and planning your financial future.
This government website affiliated with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs helps members with legal assistance in obtaining benefits.
Department of Veterans Affairs
Swords to Plowshares
National Center for PTSD
Department of Labor