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Arkansas debt relief: For many vets a 'Mission Impossible'

Survive; Evade; Resist; Escape. Those are the words figuratively seared into the heads of American service men and women as part of their training. The acronym they are taught to remember the basics is "SERE."

Those directives have certainly saved a lot of lives in combat. But many veterans returning home to Arkansas and other states after tours of combat duty say they now have to employ the SERE mentality just to avoid being taken captive by insurmountable debt. While they may feel alone they are not. Attorneys with experience in debt relief methods can help. 

Many veteran advocates say the lagging job market, slow delivery of veteran's benefits and even slower delivery of federal disability support are combining to shred the financial and mental health of too many men and women separated from the service. Some indicate that the pressures have eroded hopes to the point of despair.

Experts hold that post-traumatic stress disorder is not the only thing driving rising rates of suicide among veterans. And they say it's only going to get worse in the months and years just ahead, as more than 1 million military people seek to transition back to civilian life.

The story of one 30-year-old Navy vet serves as an example. After tours of duty in Afghanistan and Iraq he left the service. That was in 2009, after eight years. He returned home to his wife and infant daughter in Florida but found he couldn't get work anywhere.

While in the military he had overseen the work of up to 30 individuals at one time and was responsible for millions of dollars worth of equipment. Once home, he says he couldn't get a job at McDonald's, though he tried.

To physically escape that situation, the family moved to Oregon. The family has been depending on the GI Bill and veteran's benefits to pay for full time school and to make ends meet. But the arrival of another child and other realities continue to weigh them down and bankruptcy is waiting in the wings.

For anyone who has committed themselves to getting the mission accomplished, facing bankruptcy may feel like defeat. But that is not the case. The better attitude to take is that bankruptcy serves as a means to restore hope and stability to meet the challenges of caring for themselves and their families. 

Source: NBC News, "Financial strain pushes many veterans to the breaking point," Bill Briggs, May 4, 2013

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