In 2009, Ohio voters approved a ballot measure that provides bonuses for Ohioans who have served in the U.S. Military since 9/11.
Mike McKinney of the Ohio Department of Veterans Services tells Ohio Public Radio's Jo Ingles it's important to spread the word about the measure so that all eligible veterans can receive that money.
McKinney – The State of Ohio is rewarding this current generation of veterans that have fought since 9/11 for our freedom by providing them the Ohio Veteran’s bonus. It’s been a very successful program since it was launched in 2010. It was approved by Ohio’s voters overwhelmingly back in 2009 and as I said, it’s been very successful. So far, more than 81,000 veterans and eligible family members have received over 65.6 million from the Ohio Veteran’s Bonus but there’s a very important deadline that I’d like to make everyone aware of. This year is the last year for veterans who served in Iraq between March 2003 and December of 2011 to apply for the Ohio Veteran’s Bonus and that deadline for the Iraq veterans is December 31, 2014 – the end of this year.
Ingles – So tell me, how many veterans are out there that might be eligible for this bonus but haven’t signed up for it yet? Is there any way to know that?
McKinney – Since 9/11 Jo, between 75,000 and 80,000 Ohioans have deployed to serve in either Iraq or Afghanistan. The bonus veterans who served in Afghanistan or veterans who served anywhere else in the world since 9/11 is open past the end of this year but I just want to emphasize that for anyone who has served in Iraq and that’s between March of 2003 when Iraq was invaded and December of 2011 when the last combat troops were pulled out. Veterans who served in Iraq between those times need to apply for the bonus this year by December 31st.
Ingles – Tell me what this bonus is. How much are we talking about here?
McKinney – The Ohio Veteran’s Bonus pays up to $1,500 for veterans who served in one of the conflict areas, that being on the ground in Iraq or on the ground in Afghanistan. The payment for serving in those areas is $100 a month up to a maximum of $1000 and then it’s a maximum of $500 for anyone who served anywhere else in the world, say in Germany, Korea, stateside, in the Atlantic or Pacific, you know those areas. And that’s up to $500 so someone who has served a few years on active duty or has had a few deployments could collect up to $1,500 total. And there are bonuses also for families that are killed in action that would add up to what the service member would have received. So it’s very important for everybody to apply that’s served since 9/11. October 7, 2001 to be exact is the beginning date for Afghanistan or anywhere else in the world. And for Iraq as I said, it is March 2003 to December of 2011, but please, members, veterans anywhere who have served since that time, whether that was in Iraq on the ground or Afghanistan or anywhere else in the world, please take the time and apply for this bonus.
Veterans Services Spokesman Mike McKinney says eligibility for the program is based on military deployment, residency and service records. The agency’s phone number is 1-877- Ohiovet and anyone who thinks they might be eligible is urged to call that number of go to the agency’s website.