Jeremy is a 38-year-oldveteran of the Air Force who was discharged under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” Jeremy doesn’t have much family support, and after his discharge he was angry and adrift. He enrolled in school but, struggling with anxiety and depression, he dropped out and was homeless for a while. He got several speeding tickets during this time and couldn’t afford the citations. The court had offered him payment plans, but he was overwhelmed and unable to afford the monthly payments. The DMV suspended his driver’s license for nonpayment. After several years, Jeremy was approved for Social Security Disability Income. Once his life stabilized, he began to repay his debt. He owed thousands of dollars to the courts and started making $50 per month payments. Eventually, he was able to pay off two of his tickets, but he was still struggling and went to the local legal aid office for help. They filed motions in two courts on his behalf, reducing his debt to a manageable amount and restoring his license. During this time, the U.S. Treasury started taking $89 per month out of Jeremy’s Social Security check to repay his $60,000 defaulted federal student loan debt. Through sustained advocacy, legal aid was able to get them to stop the garnishment, refund the amounts garnished, and permanently discharge all of his loan debt under the Total and Permanent Disability discharge program.

When asked what his experience with legal aid was like, Jeremy said, “It was amazing! This was one of those situations where you hope it works out but don’t expect it to. Legal aid helped turn my life around. I wish there were more legal aid lawyers because we have such an underserved population of people who need their help!”

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