Law protects deployed soldiers

"The answer is no," said Tully. "They're [service members] allowed to break a lease at any time for deployment," even if they just signed a one-year lease on an apartment two weeks prior.

In 2008, a new amendment took effect allowing military personnel to terminate cell phone contracts for the same reason.

Tully said that the law also affects pending lawsuits. For example, if a soldier who has been deployed is being sued, whether it is over a car accident or divorce, the lawsuit can be held until the soldier's return.

"That entire aspect of this Servicemembers' Civil Relief Act is not common knowledge. Certain provisions are, but the exact details are not very well known, and that's a shame," said Tully.

He said people are losing out on benefits that they don't know about. The SCRA also prevents evictions or the foreclosure of a soldier's home while he or she is deployed.

"They don't have to worry about their family getting thrown out on the street," said Tully.

Tully said that under the SCRA, if a soldier is paying child support and earns less in the military than in his or her civilian job, the SCRA allows the service member to go in and petition.

"It's a double-edged sword," said Tully. "The intent here is not necessarily to care for the child [in this case]. It's to help the service member so that when he goes to Afghanistan or Iraq, he still has some money to buy a newspaper."

Carl Pfeiffer, of Tully Rinckey PLLC and a recently retired Army colonel who served for 25 years, said making soldiers aware of their rights under the SCRA is important.

"If a soldier has a right, they have the right. The problem that the Army has wrestled with is making sure soldiers are educated on all the rights that they do have," said Pfeiffer.

When Pfeiffer was deployed in 2005 to Iraq, he and his wife continued paying rent on the home where they were living because his wife and family stayed there while he was away. However, he said that he always had a military clause in his leases so that if he did have to break his lease early, he would be able to do so without any issues.

He said it's important that soldiers aren't penalized for not knowing their rights.

For more information, Tully recommends logging on to www.military.com.


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