New Rules For Veterans’ Aid Fund Slow In Coming

first_imgNew Rules For Veterans’ Aid Fund Slow In ComingSeptember 20, 2018 By Dionte ColemanTheStatehouseFile.comINDIANAPOLIS – During the 2016 legislative session lawmakers passed a law making it possible for more military families in need to get help from a special state fund.However, with the 2018 budget session only a few months away, the Veterans Affair Commission has not been able to complete its assignment – draft a new set of regulations for the Military Relief Fund that will comply with the law.And that has left one lawmaker frustrated.“As an advocate, as a public servant…the work I’m doing at the General Assembly to create these laws, it’s very frustrating,” state Rep. Karlee Macer, D-Indianapolis, said at a commission meeting Wednesday.The commission, part of the Indiana Department of Veteran Affairs, hosted a hearing so the public could voice their concerns about the new rule about how the fund’s resources will be distributed to current or former military members in need.Lisa Wilken at the public hearing on the Military Family Relief FundPhoto by Dionte Coleman, TheStatehouseFile.comThe Military Relief Fund was originally established in 2007 by the IDVA to help the families of deployed or recently deployed Indiana National Guard and Selected Reserves members. The emergency grants were to be used by families for essential needs such as food, housing, utilities, medical services, and transportation.Under the new rule, the service member must be active or had received an honorable discharge, qualified members may be eligible for the fund if they have at least 12 months of qualifying service, with a portion on active duty and a documented need. The qualified individual or family member can receive up to $2,500 one time from the fund.Lisa Wilken, a district chair for the American Legion in Indiana, was a part of a working group that submitted recommended rules to the Veterans’ Affair Commission. The recommendations she saw surprised her because they did not take into account suggestions made by the working group.Wilken cited one example that she said would benefit veteran. She said that a soldier injured in the line of duty after only eight months of service might not be eligible for aid from the fund because he or she does not meet the requirement of one year of service.Macer said she fears the commission is settling for minor tweaks and adjustments that are being made to the rules.“So, what I’m hearing is that everything that was here talking about to make these rules right after all this time, what we’re going to have to do is settle for the best we can get with the minor tweaks and I think that, that is a disservice,” Macer said.But retired Maj. Gen. Erika Steuterman, who chairs the commission, said that the future looks bright for having a better set of rules in place by January.“I know that our veterans and their families will get the best consideration possible out there in the interim,” she said. “I say that we are a lot closer than we were two and a half years ago.”FOOTNOTE: Dionte Coleman is a reporter for TheStatehouseFile.com, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students.Print Friendly, PDF & EmailFacebookTwitterCopy LinkEmailSharelast_img

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