The state of Georgia is exceptionally proud to be the home for hundreds of thousands of U.S. military veterans and active duty servicemen and women. In addition to the current military population, many more Georgian residents are planning on enlisting in one of the branches of the U.S. armed forces in order to serve and protect our country.

Some of the individuals who are planning on enlisting have been experiencing very difficult financial circumstances due to the recent economic recession. A number of these people have contacted our office to discuss the possible benefits and disadvantages of filing for bankruptcy.

Filing for bankruptcy may be the right decision for you and your family. However, bankruptcy is not the best solution for everyone’s money troubles which is why working with a knowledgeable bankruptcy attorney can help you make this important decision. One reason why bankruptcy may not be the best solution for a specific individual is if that individual wishes to enlist in the military.

Requirements for Joining the Military

Every branch of the armed services maintains its own eligibility requirements. However, in general, interested military recruits need to meet a set of eligibility standards – including financial eligibility. Usually the mere act of filing for bankruptcy does not automatically disqualify a recruit from joining the military. Nonetheless, there are a number of specific circumstances that, if present in any given recruit’s case, may result in disqualification.

These specific circumstances include foreclosures of homes, repossessions of vehicles, large amounts of credit card debt, and convictions for tax evasion, embezzlement, or other finance-related crimes. To determine whether these circumstances are present in a recruit’s case, the military branch will examine the recruit’s financial and criminal history. Another reason why the military looks at a recruit’s financial history is to confirm whether the recruit is capable of living on his/her projected military salary.

I Already Filed for Bankruptcy – Can I Enlist?

If a person already filed for bankruptcy and his/her case does not have any of the aforementioned circumstances, the person will likely be able to successfully enlist in the military. However, there are a few bankruptcy-specific circumstances that could still disqualify a person from military service. These factors include committing bankruptcy fraud, disobeying or ignoring the bankruptcy court’s orders, filing for bankruptcy in order to discharge debts incurred for luxury purchases, or filing for bankruptcy multiple times.

Of course, it is also important to point out that in many cases, filing for bankruptcy can actually improve a person’s financial state of affairs because doing so eliminates all or most of the person’s debts and allows them to move forward with a clean slate (read this post to learn more **internal link to previous post). Military recruiters may even favorably view a bankruptcy filing if it was made due to circumstances that were beyond the person’s control, such as on account of unemployment or a serious illness, and the person has subsequently demonstrated financial responsibility.

What About My Security Clearance?

Another factor to consider is whether filing bankruptcy may affect your security clearance. This will largely depend on two factors: which position you want to hold and which branch of the armed services you want to join. But bear in mind that for security clearance issuances, the military looks at a whole host of factors including any history of drug or alcohol abuse, a recruit’s ties to foreign countries or foreign nationals, and any history of psychological disorders. To learn more about these specific issues, it would be beneficial to speak to a military recruiter.

If you are considering filing for bankruptcy, contact our office today to speak to a knowledgeable attorney about your options. We look forward to working with you!