When men and women leave the military, the business community often does not reward them for their years of service with good-paying jobs. It is not surprising that veterans are among the Americans who are struggling to stave off foreclosure. Like many others, they are hoping that the bank will re-work the terms of their loans and help them through tough economic times - in the same way that the government helped the banks. They are hopeful that the banks will honor the mandate of Fannie and Freddie and offer meaningful re-working of the terms of their loans. Perhaps their 9% adjustable rates will be reduced to a 5% fixed rate. Perhaps the loan balance will be reduced to reflect the loss in value caused by the mortgage meltdown. Perhaps they can stay in their homes, because it would make economic sense for the bank to re-work their loans instead of forcing them out only to sell the house at less than 60% of the loan balance.
In this foreclosure struggle, these veterans are given no respect by the foreclosure mills. The Florida Attorney General has found that in thousands of cases involving members of the military, proof of service of process has been falsified. In thousands of other cases, former military families cannot get legal representation because they cannot afford to retain lawyers, but have just enough income to disqualify them for free representation through legal services programs. Without legal representation, they are left on their own to identify bank fraud. They must prove that the documents being presented by the mortgage-backed trusts are fraudulent and that the banks are fabricating evidence to force them out of their homes. Their years of military training and service did not prepare them for this particular battle.
Instead of a rocket-docket that forces military families out of their homes with no more than a 90-second hearing and a rubber stamp of the bank practices, there could be special measures taken in cases involving military families. The banks could be required to engage in mandated (but most often ignored) meaningful mediation. The banks could be required to present to the Courts a one-page straightforward "before and after" comparison that plainly shows the revised loan terms that were offered to these families.
Where no substantial effort was made by the banks, courts could appoint Special Masters to carefully examine the bank documents to make sure that banks were not relying on documents that had been fabricated just to speed the foreclosure. Where such documents were used to beat military families in foreclosure, courts could sanction the banks by requiring substantial concessions to meaningfully penalize the wrong-doing. Some restaurants and area businesses offer a free sandwich to veterans on Veterans Day. An offer of economic justice is more befitting the many sacrifices of these families.
Lynn E. Szymoniak, Esq.