What should I know about financial or legal issues?
Whether it's a disagreement with your family about household finances, a potential foreclosure or bankruptcy, or a lawsuit or arrest, money issues and legal problems can be very stressful.
Some Veterans may face financial problems because they are out of work — perhaps due to medical conditions associated with military injuries, a lack of job openings, or not knowing how to present their military job skills in the civilian world. Other Veterans may have large debts as a result of not budgeting properly or from unplanned expenses, such as hospital stays or other emergencies. Relationship disputes or arrests for illegal activities can also lead to legal or financial problems.
Financial and legal problems can go hand in hand. Although doing so is ineffective, some people turn to illegal activities as a way to solve their money problems. People in trouble with the law or involved in a lawsuit may have difficulty paying their legal expenses.
“It just didn’t make sense to me that the entire time I was serving overseas, I was also falling deeper and deeper into debt. I was in denial for way too long, and it wasn’t until I addressed my financial issues the same way I would an operation in the military that I got things turned in the right direction.”
If you are having financial or legal problems, you may feel embarrassed and wonder what other people will think. Perhaps you have made mistakes, kept the problems to yourself, or made hasty decisions in order to cover up what you’re going through. You may feel as if you don’t know what to do or where to turn for help. No matter the reason for your legal or money problems, you should reach out for support.
What financial or legal-related issues should I keep an eye out for?
Even the most responsible person can run into financial or legal problems. If you are dealing with money issues, your first impulse may be to borrow more money — but be aware that the additional debt and terms of some loans can quickly put extra strain on your finances and may lead to even more serious financial trouble.
Some Veterans are dealing with physical or emotional issues that may be related to financial or legal problems. You may lose sleep or feel severe stress because of the money or legal issues you are facing. Alternatively, your physical or emotional issues may be contributing to your financial or legal problems. For example, some people may gamble, spend money, or buy things because they think that doing so will make them forget about their other issues, but later they regret these actions.
What can I do about financial and legal issues?
There are steps you can take to help improve and better cope with your financial or legal situations. Try to remember to:
- Develop a budget for your expenses.
- Avoid quick fixes to debt, such as short-term loans or maxing out your credit cards.
- Be cautious of scams that sound “too good to be true.”
- Let trusted people or reputable organizations help you avoid financial or legal trouble.
- Avoid drinking too much alcohol, especially when making financial decisions.
- Take medications only as directed by your doctor, and do not use illegal drugs.
- Be open to changing your behavior and habits.
It’s important to be aware of the resources available to you in order to overcome your financial or legal problems. As a Veteran, you have access to information about legal services and financial guidance from reliable sources such as VA, Vet Centers, and accredited Veterans Service Organizations. In some states, there are special courts available for Veterans with mental health needs, including issues related to substance use. If you are facing criminal charges, you may want to see if your community operates a Veterans Treatment Court.
Take the next step to connect with care.
Every day, Veterans from all military service branches and eras connect with proven resources and effective treatments. Here’s how to take the next step: the one that’s right for you.
Read VA's latest coronavirus information. If you have flu-like symptoms such as fever, cough, and shortness of breath, please call before you visit your local medical center or clinic. If you have an appointment, consider making it a telehealth appointment.
New to VA? Apply for health care benefits.
- Getting started is simple. Create a free account online to help ease your enrollment process. To prepare to apply for VA health care in person, by telephone, or by mail, explore VA’s “How to Apply” page.
- Not sure whether you are eligible for VA health care benefits? Read about eligibility for VA health care.
- Unsure of what kind of help you need? Call 1-877-222-VETS (1-877-222-8387) to find the right resources to meet your needs, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. ET. If you have hearing loss, call TTY: 1-800-877-8339.
- Veterans’ family members and caregivers can see whether they qualify for VA medical benefits as a spouse, surviving spouse, dependent child, or caregiver. Explore family and caregiver health benefits.
Already enrolled in VA and interested in mental health support? Schedule a mental health appointment.
- If you’re already enrolled and using VA health care, the fastest way to schedule VA appointments is to call the VA facility where you want to receive care.
- With VA Appointments tools, you can schedule some VA health care appointments online, view details about upcoming appointments, and organize your health care calendar.
- If you’re not using VA medical services, contact your nearest VA medical center or Vet Center to talk about your needs.
What about other options at VA? VA offers a variety of tools and resources.
- The Veteran Training online self-help portal for overcoming everyday challenges includes modules on managing anger, developing parenting and problem-solving skills, and more.
- Mental health apps for Veterans cover a variety of topics, ranging from PTSD to anger management to quitting smoking.
- VA TeleMental Health connects you with a VA mental health provider through a computer or mobile device in your home or at your nearest VA health facility. You can learn more about this option from your local VA medical center.
- Vet Centers are community-based counseling centers across the nation in all 50 states and US territories that provide a wide range of social and psychological services, including counseling to eligible Veterans, service members – including National Guard and Reserve components – and their families. Counselors and outreach specialists, many of whom are Veterans themselves, are experienced and prepared to discuss the tragedies of war, loss, grief, and transition after trauma. To learn more, find your nearest Vet Center. Teams are also available 24/7 by phone at 1-877-927-8387.
What about support beyond VA?
There’s a whole community of support ready to help with whatever you’re going through. Use this tool to find resources near you.