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COLUMBIA- The Missouri Attorney General's office is forming an advisory board to develop the first statewide program in Missouri that will provide pro bono legal services to current military service members.

This Military Legal Assistance Team will be Missouri’s first attorney general-led program offering free legal services. The advisory board is still in discussion on the qualifications for the legal needs as well as its strategy to recruit local Missouri attorneys.

Attorney General Josh Hawley said the hope of this program is that “when facing qualifying legal issues, a pro bono attorney will ensure the service members are well-represented for satisfactory outcome.”

Members of the advisory board include a retired U.S. Army Colonel, a former U.S. Navy officer and a former State Judge Advocate of the Missouri Army National Guard.

“The men and women who wear the uniform of the United States army put everything on the line for us here at home,” Hawley said. “That’s why I want to be here to help them in their time of need.”

Hawley said this is something to make the lives of the military a little easier.

“The act of serving our nation creates many hardships,” Hawley said. “One of which is the hardship of finding timely and affordable representation.”

Dr. Bucky Buckner is one of the members of the advisory board and said he knows first-hand this is something the military needs.

“The legal challenges even for a savvy individual can be difficult,” Buckner said. “They can be both financially and emotionally strangling from time to time.”

Hawley also chose John Comerford to be on his staff. Comerford said after graduating from the service he has been looking for a way to give back.

“I think this program is a wonderful way to help active duty members of the military as well as veterans we develop this program,” Comerford said. “

Comerford said it’s much hard for a member of the military to get legal service than it is for an active member of society.

“Member of the military experience a lot of the same legal issues that we experience sometimes,” Comerford said. “The difference is that when you are in the military you are called on the deploy and fight wars, things we take for granted can become very difficult.”

Comerford described some of those things as paying your rent and making good on credit card debts.

The Military Legal Assistance team is scheduled to launch in the beginning of the new year.

The AG's office has a volunteer form on its website.