Bonuses for Gulf, Iraq and Afghanistan vets

Published 9:27 am Monday, November 21, 2011


Veterans of the Persian Gulf, Iraq and Afghanistan wars in Ohio have been paid more than $33.1 million to date in bonus payments, with more to come as additional veterans apply.

According to the latest figures released by the Ohio Department of Veterans Services, 173 veterans living in Lawrence County have applied for the bonus and have received $151,627.99, between the programs’ start in Aug. 2010 and Nov. 2.

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Statewide, 42,149 veterans have applied for bonuses, receiving more than $33.1 million. More than 7,300 applicants outside of Ohio have received $8.1 million in bonuses.

Jack Welz, the Lawrence County Veterans Service officer, said he believes most local residents who are eligible for the bonuses have applied. But, he said, his office is unsure how many eligible veterans live in Lawrence County and a few continue to trickle into his office at the courthouse to sign up.

“I had two yesterday,” he said Thursday.

The Ohio Veterans Bonus, approved by voters in the 2008 general election, continues a tradition of providing bonuses to veterans, dating back to the Civil War. The other war bonuses are now closed, but Ohio voters overwhelmingly approved the current bonus, which is funded by bonds sold in November 2009. The program was formally launched in August 2010.

The bonus is available to veterans who served more than 90 days active duty, not for training, during the periods of the Persian Gulf War and the conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq.

For the Persian Gulf, the period is from Aug. 2, 1990 through March 3, 1991, for Afghanistan, from Oct. 7, 2001 through a date to be determined by the president, and for Iraq, from March 19, 2003 and also through a to-be-determined date. Payment can be received for active duty service anywhere in the world during these periods, but is higher for veterans who served in the Persian Gulf or in Afghanistan or Iraq.

Eligible veterans must have been Ohio residents at the time of their entry into the service, and must be Ohio residents currently.

The bonus pays $100 a month, for each month of service, 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 per month of service up to a $500 maximum.

Veterans medically discharged as a result of combat service can receive $1,000, regardless of how much time they spent in combat, 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 in-theater service can receive a bonus of $5,000 plus whatever the service member was eligible for, up to a total of $6,500.

The Ohio Veterans Bonus is not taxed by either the federal government or the state. Bonuses are given in a single lump sum payment.

“Our veterans have earned this bonus and the money is theirs to spend however they need or want to do that,” said Tom Moe, director of the Ohio Department of Veterans Services. “They may spend it to pay down bills or they may spend it on something they want, but it’s safe to say that a significant amount of what they get is going back into their local economies,” said Moe.

To apply for the bonuses, Lawrence County veterans should apply at the Lawrence County Veterans Service Office. Hours are from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Veterans should bring their military discharge papers or active duty orders, and a picture ID to apply.