News Herald – Posted: 12/25/13, 6:36 PM EST
CINCINNATI — Some Ohio military veterans eligible for state-funded bonuses of up to $1,500 are running out of time to apply for the funds, and officials are concerned that many may not make the deadline.
Ohio veterans who served during the Persian Gulf war era must have their applications in no later than Tuesday to receive the bonuses funded by a $200 million bond issue approved by Ohio voters in 2009. The Ohio Veterans Bonus is open to veterans who served anywhere in the world during the Persian Gulf war era as well as the eras of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, but application times for the lraq and Afghanistan bonus periods continue past Tuesday.
Navy veteran Robert Erb III, who has received his bonus for serving in the Persian Gulf and Afghanistan war eras, said his message to fellow veterans is simple. “Get into your local county veterans services office and apply before it’s too late,” said Erb, 42, of Fairport Harbor in northeast Ohio. Erb said his bonus was a big help in taking care of family expenses.
State officials and county veterans commissions that help with the applications have tried to get the word out to all veterans through traditional media, social media and other methods. But they are sure there are many who haven’t applied.
Almost $60 million had been paid to nearly 72,000 veterans and family members covering all three war eras as of Dec. 3, according to the Ohio Department of Veterans Services. But the department can’t say how many still need to apply. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs estimates that more than 100,000 Ohioans served during the Persian Gulf era. Any veteran who thinks he or she may be eligible needs to take the time to check into it and apply, said Ohio Department of Veterans Services Director Tim Gorrell. Gorrell said veterans owe it to themselves and their families to find out if they qualify. “If you know someone who you think may be eligible, please reach out and let them know,” he said in a recent statement. “We don’t want anyone to miss out.”
Veterans are eligible to receive the Persian Gulf portion of the Ohio Veterans Bonus if they served anywhere in the world for at least 90 days active duty between Aug. 2, 1990 and March 3, 1991. They also must have been an Ohio resident when they entered the military and at the time they apply.
Next of kin of those killed in action or who died of disease as a result of their service also could be eligible for bonuses.
The bonus pays $100 a month to veterans who served in the Persian Gulf theater, or in the countries of Afghanistan or Iraq, up to a maximum of $1,000.
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 service can receive a bonus of $5,000 plus whatever the service member was eligible for, up to a total of $6,500.