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Proposal creates grants to help injured soldiers



Published: Thu, June 30, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



Contributions from state tax return refunds would fund the program.

By DAVID SKOLNICK

VINDICATOR POLITICS WRITER

YOUNGSTOWN -- Legislation introduced by state Rep. John Boccieri to create a military injury relief fund was to be signed into law today by the governor as part of the state biennial budget bill.

Boccieri, of New Middletown, D-61st, introduced the bill in the U.S. House in May. The House-Senate Conference Committee that resolved the differences in the budget bills adopted by the two legislative bodies added Boccieri's proposal as a budget amendment. Taft was to sign the budget bill at a Dayton company today.

Voluntary donation

Boccieri's budget amendment allows state taxpayers to voluntarily give a portion of their tax return through a line item on their tax forms to help Ohio military personnel who received catastrophic disabilities during operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom.

The amendment gives the director of the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services the power to develop rules, forms and procedures for people to apply for grants from the fund. The director would report to the state Legislature every two years on the effectiveness of the system.

"Nearly 600 soldiers from Ohio are returning from these conflicts with disfigurements, amputations and challenging physical conditions," Boccieri said. "I know Ohio residents greatly appreciate their service and will help provide some resources for their challenging journey while returning to civilian life."

The military covers the costs of medical stays for those with catastrophic injuries, but there are other related expenses not covered, he said. Also, the government has scaled back some benefits for veterans, he said.

Boccieri, an Air Force Reserve major and C-130 aircraft pilot, is heading back to the Middle East late next month. It will be Boccieri's fourth and probably his final tour of the Middle East.

"I've flown injured soldiers out of Baghdad and other locations in Iraq and Afghanistan," he said. "I've seen some really tragic injuries."

Boccieri is still mulling his political future. He is considering runs next year for the 6th Congressional District, 33rd Ohio Senate District, and Ohio secretary of state seats. Boccieri expects to make a decision soon.

skolnick@vindy.com




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