Today marks the 142nd anniversary of the Memorial Day holiday. Since 1868 we in the United States have designated a day to remember members of the United States Armed forces that have given their last full measure of devotion to the nation. The tradition began just after the end of the Civil war and now has moved on to include soldiers killed in the wars against terrorism in Iraq and Afghanistan. Members of the Armed Forces have been entitled to special legal protections since World War II. Congress has respected the sacrifices that solders and their families make when they are on active duty performing the jobs most of us can imagine. In Since 1940 the Soldiers and Sailors Relief Act has served as a protection that prevents creditors, debt collectors, mortgage companies, or any other type of civil action from going forward wile the soldier is on active duty. This protection is designed to allow those going into harms way to not have to worry about instability and legal problems at home.
Despite these protections, a Home Owners Association in Frisco, Texas proceeded to foreclose on the home of Captain Michael Clauer of the United States Army Reserve. The story was first aired by on WFAA-TV in Dallas on May 14, 2010. Capt. Clauer served with a unit that provided convoy security in Iraq. He was regularly responsible to keep his 100+ men as safe as possible while performing one of the most dangerous jobs in the country. When not active in the Army Reserve, Captain Caluer is a production manager at a factory in Texas. The homeowners association foreclosed due to unpaid homeowner’s obligation of $800.00. To make matters worse Capt. Clauer’s left a wife and three children at home. His wife, who spend most of her deployment in a dark depression worried about her husband’s safety knowing he . She refused to answer the telephone or to open bills. The worry she had about her husband was all consuming.
In some of that mail she was sent a letter from the Heritage Lake Homeowners association and/or its debt collector Select Management Company. When she failed to respond the HOA proceeded to foreclose on the home and sell it for $3,500.00. The home was appraised at $300,000.00. When the story was first aired politicians throughout Texas promised to fix the situation but the realty is that the Home Owners Association has now sold the home to a buyer who is trying to evict the Clauer Family. It is expected that this mess will be resolved favorably for Capt Clauer but he is faced with having to take a mortgage out on the property to fix the problems. This story highlights what can happen when the decision is made to ignore financial problems. If Ms. Clauer had been able to contact her family readiness group it is very likely she would have been able to stop the foreclosure dead in its tracks by virtue of the Soldiers and Sailors Relief Act.
Attorneys throughout the country are more than willing to help the families of soldiers who are experiencing legal problems. Even if you are not in the armed forces or related to a member of the armed forces you may be able to resolve problems by getting active early in the process. Ignoring the problem is likely to the worst decision you can make. It is also important to understand that the answer to all financial problems is not bankruptcy. Consumers Protection is available through the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, Truth in Lending Act, Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act, State Consumer protection laws and the Soldiers and Sailors Relief Act.
What ever you do don’t delay. The financial problems you are facing are not insurmountable and it can get better.