By Marc Kovac
The state has paid more than $58.7 million in bonuses to veterans of recent and ongoing military conflicts, thanks to a constitutional amendment approved by voters four years ago.
More than 70,000 military men and women have received the payments to date. And veterans who served in the Persian Gulf in the early 1990s have less than two months to register to receive their bonus payments.
The Ohio Department of Veterans Services provided the updated snapshot of participation and application reminder Monday, urging veterans to take advantage of the payouts.
“It’s a very personal thanks to every one of our veterans who served during our recent wars from all the people of our great state,” Ohio Department of Veterans Services Director Tim Gorrell said in a released statement. “To everyone in our veterans community, please reach out to these veterans and make sure they’re aware. And if anyone has a friend or a family member who served, let them know.”
In November 2009, voters signed off on a constitutional amendment allowing the state to borrow up to $200 million to pay cash bonuses to Ohio military men and women who served at least 90 days of active duty in the Persian Gulf, Afghanistan and Iraq in current conflicts in those areas, plus those involved in Operation Desert Storm in the early 1990s.
Eligible veterans are being paid $100 for each month, up to $1,000, for time served in those areas or $50 a month, up to $500, for those serving in other locations at the time.
Families of veterans who died in action are eligible for a $5,000 death benefit.
Persian Gulf War-era veterans — those who served from Aug. 2, 1990, through March 3, 1991 — have until Dec. 31 to apply for the bonuses.
Veterans who served during the most recent Iraqi conflict have until the end of 2014 to apply, while there has been no deadline set yet for those who have served during the Afghanistan war.
Similar cash bonuses were approved by voters and paid to veterans of other wars and conflicts, dating back to World War I, though the deadline for those payments has long since passed.
A total of 70,522 claims have been paid to date.
Trumbull County had 1,273 claims totaling about $920,000.
Mahoning County had 1,156 claims totaling about $854,000, while Columbiana County had 595 claims totaling nearly nearly $457,000.
Additional information about the veterans bonus program is available online at www.veteransbonus.ohio.gov or by calling 877-644-6838.