In advance of Veterans Day, judicial, government and community leaders gathered Thursday at the Southern Illinois University Carbondale School of Law to announce the launch of the Illinois Armed Forces Legal Aid Network, according to a news release from the network.

The release states that the Illinois Armed Forces Legal Aid Network is the first-ever statewide hotline and network of legal support services for Illinois veterans, active-duty military, National Guard, reservists and their dependents. Through the IL-AFLAN, veterans and military personnel can obtain free legal help for urgent family, housing and consumer problems, as well as issues such as discharge upgrades and benefit appeals.

The free hotline is 855-452-3526 or 855-IL-AFLAN and is staffed by attorneys Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Serving as the entry point to the IL-AFLAN, the hotline will offer legal advice and brief services and then connect veterans and military members to legal aid providers near their community.

To serve veterans in Southern Illinois, the SIU School of Law Veterans Legal Assistance Program and Land of Lincoln Legal Assistance Foundation have received grants to provide legal aid services as part of the IL-AFLAN. In addition to accepting referrals from the hotline, Land of Lincoln Legal Assistance Foundation will develop a new Medical Legal Partnership with the Marion VA while the SIU Program will particularly focus on helping veterans with discharge upgrades and VA benefit appeals.

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