|Veterans Bonus deadline approaches for Persian Gulf vets|
|Wednesday, December 18, 2013 9:37 PM|
BY LINDSAY MCCOY
VAN WERT - The deadline is quickly approaching on Dec. 31 for Persian Gulf- era veterans to receive funds from the Ohio Veterans Bonus. The application for Iraq veterans will also conclude the following year on Dec. 31, 2014. Veterans will not be able to apply again for this money after these dates. A deadline for veterans who served in the Afghanistan War has not yet been announced.
“We are really trying to push these two groups of veterans to apply so that they do not miss out on this opportunity,” said Van Wert County Veterans Service Officer Barry Johns. “Van Wert County has seen a pretty good count of veterans that have applied and we hope to see these numbers continue to grow.”
The Ohio Veterans Bonus was overwhelmingly approved by Ohio voters in November 2009 as a thank-you to those Ohioans who served in the military during the Persian Gulf War and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Persian Gulf War veterans who served anywhere in the world for at least 90 days of active duty, not for training, between Aug. 2, 1990, and March 3, 1991, are eligible to receive a piece of the bonus. Those who served in the Persian Gulf Theater are eligible to receive a higher bonus.
To be eligible, the veteran must have been a resident of Ohio when they entered the military and at the time when they apply for the bonus.
“This is a time of year when our minds are understandably focused on our families and the holidays but the Ohio Veterans Bonus is a great benefit for those who’ve served as well as their families,” said Ohio Department of Veterans Services Director Tim Gorrell. “If you think you may be eligible, take the time to check into it and apply. If you know someone who you think may be eligible, please reach out and let them know. We don’t want anyone to miss out.”
The bonus is open to veterans who served anywhere in the world, not only during the Persian Gulf War era but also during the eras of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The amount of the bonus received is higher for service in the war zones.
This bonus is also open to the next of kin of those who were killed in action or died of disease as a result of in-theater service. The bonus is not subject to federal or state taxes and can be used for any purpose.
The specific criteria and deadlines for all eras of service include military service of more than 90 days active duty, not for training, anywhere in the world during the following periods: Aug. 2, 1990, through March 3, 1991, for the Persian Gulf War; Oct. 7, 2001, through a date to be determined by the president for the Afghanistan War; and March 19, 2003 through December 31, 2011, for the Iraq War.
The bonus pays $100 a month, up to a maximum of $1,000, to veterans who served in the Persian Gulf theater, or in the countries of Afghanistan or Iraq. For veterans who served elsewhere, the payment is $50 a month, up to a $500 maximum. Veterans medically discharged due to injuries sustained in combat can receive $1,000, plus up to $500 for months of service elsewhere. Family members of those killed in action or who died from disease as a result of their in-theater service can receive a bonus of $5,000 plus whatever the service member was eligible for, up to a total of $6,500.
Almost $60 million has been paid to nearly 72,000 veterans and family members to date. For more information or to apply, call toll-free to 1-877-OHIO VET (1-877-644-6838) option 2, visit www.veteransbonus.ohio.gov or visit any county veteran service office. These offices can also provide information about all federal and state veterans’ benefits, and assist veterans in the application process.
“If you have questions, stop by,” said Johns. “We will try to get the application process done as quickly as possible and get you as much as we can. The bonus can often amount to several hundred dollars and extra money to be used by veterans.”
One local veteran has already applied for her bonus and plans to donate her portion of the money to the Wounded Warrior Program.
The Veterans Service Commission is located at 121 E. Main St. in Van Wert at the Court House room 101. Office hours are from 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday and from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Friday.