Veterans’ Employment Opportunities and Assistance

Written by Meghan Holland (’17) – Wake Forest School of Law Veterans Legal Clinic Student Practitioner

The military equips veterans with a plethora of skills that can be translated into assets in the workplace. When describing military job candidates some of the strengths noted by the organization, North Carolina for Military Employment, included leadership, character, effectiveness, and resiliency.[1] With these characteristics, and many more, veterans would be able to successfully surpass the needs of employers. In North Carolina, there are a variety of resources and events aimed at providing employment for veterans and aiding them in the process of translating their experiences in the military, into the skills employers are searching for in the civilian work place. This blog is an attempt to gather those resources into one place and describe what services they provide, in hopes that this will aid veterans in effectively searching for programs that will meet their needs.

One resource is the NC Workforce Commerce, which provides specific services for veterans.[2] This website allows an individual to visit NCWorks Career Center, which provides access to a variety of resources including access to job fairs, workshops, job interview preparation, and resume/cover letter assistance. Through NCWorks veterans can also be given the opportunity to job postings 24 hours before the jobs become available to the general public. NCWorks also links to an apprenticeship program.[3] The apprenticeship program allows the participant to combine classroom learning and on-site training. Important financial notes for the apprenticeship program are            that the participant is paid for the work they do and veterans are able to continue access the GI Bill income supplements to their own income while participating in the apprenticeship program. This resource would be most helpful as a starting point for a job search because it provides the ability to receive assistance on all aspects of the job-seeking process. Further assistance can be sought through the Gold Card Initiative, described below.

Another resource is NCVETSLEGAL which has compiled a list of resources related to veterans and employment opportunities.[4]  One resource noted is the North Carolina Division of Employment Security: Services for Veterans.(The NC DES)[5]  This resource would be helpful for veterans who are seeking training services or need assistance in ensuring that their job applications are receiving the appropriate priority. This resource also links to the Department of Labor website, which provides information about national resources.[6] The NC DES also directs veterans to the resources provided on the NCWorks website. Another resource noted by NCVETSLEGAL is Stateside Legal: REALifelines: Veteran’s Employement and Career Transition Advisor.[7]  This link would be most helpful for a veteran seeking one-on-one advice about the process of seeking civilian employment. A final initiative highlighted on the NCVETSLEGAL website is the Gold Card Initiative.[8] The Gold Card Initiative would be applicable to veterans who served post 9-11 and are currently unemployed.[9] This resource provides similar services to those provided by NC Works. Some of the services provided through the Gold Card Initiative are job readiness assessments, career counseling, and referrals to job openings. The Gold Card Initiative allows veterans to have access to the NC Works Career Centers and receive extra benefits from the career center. To locate a career center, just plug you zip code into a locator and the surrounding career centers will be listed.[10]

Other non-profit organizations also provide resources for veterans who are in the process of seeking employment. One example is Patriots Path, which offers a five part course designed to help veterans transition to civilian employment in the Charlotte area. The course costs $25 and provides five weeks of trainings, where veterans are able to receive one-on-one mentoring, interest assessments, as well as covering a variety of topics related to job searching and success in the workplace.[11] This resource would be most helpful for a veteran with the ability to attend all of the classes. Another class option, is the Veterans Entrepreneurship Advantage, which is offered at Wake Tech.[12] Although, the 8 week course has already begun for the Fall of 2016, this course would be beneficial for a veteran interest in opening a small business.


[1] NC4VETS Resource Guide, Page 23.

[2] https://www.nccommerce.com/workforce/job-seekers/veterans

[3] https://www.nccommerce.com/workforce/job-seekers/apprenticeships

[4] http://ncvetslegal.org/job-training/

[5] https://www.ncesc1.com/individual/veterans/veteransmain.asp

[6] https://www.dol.gov/vets/index.htm

[7] http://webapps.dol.gov/elaws/VeteransCareerTransition.htm

[8] http://ncvetslegal.org/veterans-retraining-assistance-program-vrap/

[9] https://www.dol.gov/vets/goldcard.html

[10] https://www.careeronestop.org/LocalHelp/service-locator.aspx

[11] http://patriots-path.org/services/

[12] http://ncveteransworkinggroup.org/event/veterans-entrepreneurship-advantage-class/

The Differences between Military and Civilian Law: A Note of Caution about Off-duty Behavior

Written by Matt Silverstein (’17) – Wake Forest School of Law Veterans Legal Clinic Student Practitioner

It would be clear to most individuals when they look at the military that it is distinctive from civilian life.  Not just in the functions that it carries out, but in culture and many other aspects of everyday life.  Most would also probably be aware of the fact that the military has a parallel justice system that can punish members of the military for a variety of offenses.  However, many may not be aware of the types of offenses that are punishable under the Uniform Code of Military Justice (“UCMJ) and the broad sweep of behavior that can be regulated while one serves in the military.

The most notable of these behaviors that can be punished is adultery.  While many states may retain prohibitions on adultery on their statute books, they have long been unenforceable especially in the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision in Lawrence v. Texas in 2003 which reaffirmed the principle that sexual acts between consenting adults were beyond the power of the state to regulate.[i]  However, under the UCMJ, the military can and still does punish individuals who engage in adultery.  This may seem strange in this day and age that behavior of this sort would even be a concern for the government, as it is something that is deeply involved in one’s personal life.  However, the reasons for this have been made very clear.  Such acts are punishable because they are believed to harm the good order and functionality of the military.  A simple example can illustrate this point.  If a soldier has an affair with the wife of a superior officer or vice versa and the other spouse found out about such behavior, they are unlikely to be well disposed towards that soldier.  In fact, it would not be surprising if they are very hostile towards them given what may have occurred.  This would almost certainly affect one’s ability to take or give orders and raises the specter of unfair treatment of individuals based on personal grievances.  Because of this, and the need for the military to function as smoothly as possible, such behavior is not tolerated and can be punished quite harshly.

Other similar behaviors are also prohibited.  In particular fraternization between officers and enlisted men is explicitly banned.  Under Army Regulation AR 600-20, fraternization consists of a relationship that appears to present “undue familiarity” between soldiers of a different grade.[ii]    Thus it prohibits more than just sexual relationships.  Being close friends with a soldier of a different rank would likely be enough to qualify as fraternization.  Certain behaviors, like the selling of a car or home, as well as socializing at an event for an entire unit are exceptions to this otherwise stringent rule.  It may seem strange that type of behavior is also prohibited by the military but again the rationale is that in military life, an enlisted member must obey an officers orders and too close of a relationship between them may impair the ability for these orders to be carried out, much the same as the justification for the prohibition on adultery.

All of this serves not to criticize the military and its decision making process.  There are reasons to both agree and disagree with the military for how it handles these issues.  This post is meant more to stress to those who may be interested in joining the military that, once in the service, you are subject to a different standard of conduct than you are used to in the civilian world.  Simply put, you are held to a higher standard of personal conduct and this standard does not lessen when you are off-duty or not on base.  It is important to be aware that these avoidable issues can have legal ramifications while in the service and that they can, and have, cut short many a promising career.  Just remember to always be familiar with the rules that apply to you as a member of the armed forces and how these rules impact your life.

Obtaining In-State Tuition for Military Spouses and Children

Written by Adam Nyenhuis (’17) – Wake Forest School of Law Veterans Legal Clinic Student Practitioner

The price tag for a college education has skyrocketed over the last several decades, and paying for college has become an increasingly difficult proposition for working families. Accounting for inflation, the average annual cost of attendance at a public, four-year college (including tuition, fees, and room & board) has increased from $7,833 in 1975 to $19,548 in 2015.[1] Without scholarships or need-based aid, this brings the four-year average total cost of a bachelor’s degree to $78,192 at public colleges—and that does not account for interest that could accrue on loans used to finance the education. The cost of a four-year education at a private university more than doubles to an eye-popping total of $175,684.[2]

This is enough of a headache for almost any family, but it can be even worse for military families with college-bound students. The difference between in-state and out-of-state tuition at many public colleges can be stark. In the 2010-2011 academic year, tuition for out-of-state students at four-year colleges cost on average $8,990 more per year than in-state tuition.[3] States vary widely in their requirements to establish “in-state” status for tuition purposes, but dependent students must usually have at least one parent who is a state resident for one full year before the student matriculates in college.[4] If the student receives substantial financial support from outside the state of the student’s college, the student’s claim to in-state tuition could be in jeopardy.[5] This can pose problems that disproportionally affect military families, who move between states far more often than non-military families. Frequent moving makes it more likely that college-aged military children will have not lived in a state long enough to obtain in-state tuition under usual standards, or that their parents will move out of the state in which they attend college, which could endanger their claim to in-state tuition.

Fortunately, for public colleges, a relatively recent federal law provides military families with some relief. The Higher Education Opportunity Act states that public colleges cannot charge military spouses or dependent children more than in-state tuition rates, so long as the service member is on active duty for more than 30 days and is stationed in the state of the relevant public college.[6] There is the additional requirement that the relevant state receive certain types of federal funding, such as Work-Study, Urban and Rural Community Action programs, and Native American programs, to name a few.[7] Therefore, it is important to research whether the relevant state receives the required funding. Because this only applies to service members on active duty, it does not apply to retired service members. However, the law also provides that once a student begins paying the in-state tuition rate, that student will pay that rate for as long as he or she is continually enrolled at the institution. This means that dependents of service members who move—either due to a change in duty station or retirement—will not lose their in-state status. The important point to remember is that even though the Higher Education Opportunity Act has been the law for several years, not all college financial aid workers will be familiar with these standards. For that reason, students and/or their service member parents should be prepared to provide financial aid workers with the law’s requirements to make sure that the student receives the lower in-state rate.  More information on the Higher Education Opportunity Act.

[1] Trends in Higher Education, College Board, https://trends.collegeboard.org/college-pricing/figures-tables/tuition-and-fees-and-room-and-board-over-time-1975-76-2015-16-selected-years  (last visited Oct. 25, 2016).

[2] Id.

[3] In-State vs. Out-of-State Tuition, George Washington Univ., https://heath.gwu.edu/state-vs-out-state-tuition (last visited Oct. 25, 2016).

[4] In-State Tuition and State Residency Requirements, FinAid, http://www.finaid.org/otheraid/stateresidency.phtml (last visited Oct. 25, 2016).

[5] Id.

[6] Higher Education Opportunity Act, 20 U.S.C. § 1015d (2015).

[7] See 42 U.S.C. §§ 2711–2996 (2015).

Waiving the California National Guard Debt

Written by Charlee Fox (’17) – Wake Forest School of Law Veterans Legal Clinic Student Practitioner 

The news of the California National Guard call for enlistment bonuses repayment has shaken many service members across the United States. In short, a recent audit found that around $22 million in unauthorized bonuses were given to soldiers.[1] The money included reenlistment bonuses and student loan forgiveness bonuses. Out of 11,000 soldiers in the audit: (1) 1,100 soldiers had received an unauthorized payment that they are required to pay back, (2) 5,400 soldiers had missing paperwork or lack of documentation of eligibility, and (3) only 4,000 soldiers were found to have eligibility for the payments they received. This dilemma poses multiple legal issues. Thus, one relevant issue is contractual obligations of the service members.

Many recipients of the enlistment bonuses claim that they both: (1) signed the contract in good faith[2], and (2) detrimentally relied on the money they received. Chapter One §1 of the Second Restatement of Contracts defines a contract as “a promise or a set of promises for the breach of which the law gives a remedy, or the performance of which the law in some way recognizes as a duty.” A promise “may be stated in words either oral or written, or may be inferred wholly or partly from conduct.[3]” The development of a contract requires more than one party (each having capacity) as well as mutual assent[4] and consideration[5]. However, the presence of detrimental reliance “may make a contractual remedy appropriate even though uncertainty is not removed.[6]

Here is an example of a re-enlistment contract. Section V of this document promises that “[b]onus payments will be received IAW USAR SRIP.” Further, it states that “[r]etaining this bonus once paid is contingent upon satisfactory participation in the Selected Reserve and subject to current recoupment policy.” Thus, in Section IX, it states “I understand that calculated overpayments will be recouped and calculated underpayments will be paid to me.”

Unfortunately, if the re-enlistment documents signed by soldiers in California had a clause similar to that stated in Section IX above, then a remedy may not be as easily available. In the present California situation, there were two parties (i.e. the soldier and the government), one of which made a written promise (an offer) to the other. The soldier accepted the promise with consideration and able capacity when he signed the contract with the idea that he would be compensated. However, if the contract that the California soldiers signed had a clause acknowledging what happens in the event of a miscalculation, there may be little that can be done.

A contract is only deemed unenforceable if certain situations such arise. Two relevant situations for the California service members include mistake and public policy grounds. The factors for avoiding a contract based on a unilateral mistake (i.e. mistake from the government) are: (1) a unilateral mistake, (2) of a fact in existence at the time the contract was made, (3) the basic assumption upon which the contract was made, (4) which has material and important effect on the value of what’s being exchanged if (5) the mistake is observable, or (6) the enforcement of the contract is unfair. Thus, the California soldiers affected by this re-pay requirement may have a claim for mistake if their re-enlistment bonus contracts have no clause discussing miscalculations, or if the clause is present but soldiers can show the enforcement to be unfair (e.g. via detrimental reliance).

Alternately, it is possible that the California soldiers may have a claim regarding public policy. Chapter 8, § 198 of the Second Restatement states: “[a] party has a claim in restitution for performance that he has rendered under or in return for a promise that is unenforceable on the grounds of public policy if he was excusably ignorant of the facts or of legislation of a minor character. . . or he was not equally in the wrong with the promisor.” In California, the soldiers were not equally in the wrong with the promisor because they were unaware of their ineligibility. Additionally, Chapter § 199 states “[a] a party has a claim in restitution. . . if he did not engage in serious misconduct and . . . allowance of the claim would put an end to a continuing situation that is contrary to the public interest.” Therefore, the California soldiers may have a case for contract voidance based on public policy because the issue affects soldiers who have put their life on the line to protect all Americans.

It appears that the best solution to the re-enlistment repay issue is likely Congressional intervention. It was stated that “the California National Guard welcomes any law passed by Congress to waive these debts.”[7] Soldiers may submit individual petitions and the military has the authority to waive individual repayments, but not all at once.[8] Consequently, it will be interesting to see how Congress handles this million dollar issue.

If you are a soldier affected by re-enlistment bonus repayment and would like to petition, please view this website.

Since the writing of this article, Secretary of Defense Ash Carter has suspended “all efforts to collect reimbursement” until he is “satisfied that our process is working effectively.”  This post will be updated in the event of any change in the Mr. Carter’s position.


[1] See http://www.cnn.com/2016/10/24/us/national-guard-recruitment-bonus-repayment/

[2] In accordance to Comment a in Chapter 9 § 205 of the Second Restatement of Contracts, good faith is defined as “honesty in fact in the conduct or transaction concerned.”

[3] Chapter 1, §4 Second Restatement of Contracts

[4] Mutual Assent is explained in Chapter 3 § 17 by stating “the formation of a contract requires a bargain in which there is a manifestation of mutual assent to the exchange and a consideration.” This can be thought of as the making and accepting of an offer.

[5] Chapter 4 §71 states that “[t]o constitute consideration, a performance or a return promise must be bargained for.” Further, “[a] performance or return promise is bargained for it if is sought by the promisor in exchange for his promise and is given by the promise in exchange for that promise.” That is, consideration acts as an assumption that the contract will be enforced.

[6] Chapter 3 § 34

[7] See http://www.cnn.com/2016/10/24/us/national-guard-recruitment-bonus-repayment/.

[8] Id.