This is a time of year when we think about the men and women who have served in our nation’s military throughout the course of history. Memorial Day is a reverent day to honor those who never made it back from war, and Flag Day and the Fourth of July reignite our patriotism and remind us that none of the freedoms we enjoy in this country would be possible without the brave men and women serving in our military.
Pennsylvania continues to rank among the states with some of the highest number of veterans living within its borders.
To help veterans and their families who live in the 116th District, I offer free assistance through my district office. On the second Tuesday of every month, an American Legion service officer is available to answer questions about veterans benefits and help file claims. Veterans interested in using this free service are asked to call (570) 453-1344 to schedule an appointment. Our office is located at 1 W. Broad St., Suite 100, in Hazleton.
In addition, the Department of Veterans Affairs’ Mobile Veterans Center, which provides free outreach and counseling services to veterans and their families, schedules visits to Laurel Mall in Hazleton on the second Tuesday of the month.
Veterans who are in crisis and need immediate help or intervention are urged to contact the Veterans Crisis Line. The counseling service connects veterans and their families and friends with qualified, caring Department of Veterans Affairs responders through a confidential toll-free hotline, online chat or text. Veterans and their loved ones can call 1-800-273-8255 and press 1, chat online, or send a text message to 838255 to receive confidential support 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. Support for deaf and hard of hearing individuals is available.
In addition to making sure proper assistance is available to our veterans, we also need to recognize them and their service in notable ways.
For veterans who served on active duty in the Persian Gulf Theater of Operations, including Operations Desert Storm and Desert Shield, the Persian Gulf Conflict Veterans’ Bonus is available. The deadline to apply for the bonus is Aug. 31, 2018. The bonus pays $75 per month for qualifying, active-duty service members, up to a $525 maximum. For personnel whose death was related to illness or injury received in the line of duty in Operations Desert Shield or Desert Storm, an additional $5,000 is available to the surviving family. Service members who were declared prisoners of war may also be eligible for an additional $5,000.
More than 11,000 Persian Gulf veterans have applied for the one-time cash bonus program since the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs (DMVA) began accepting applications in 2008. The DMVA is encouraging veterans who were previously denied the bonus to reapply to have their claims reviewed again. For more information, visit www.dmva.pa.gov
God bless our servicemen and servicewomen, both past and present, and all the families and friends who have supported them in their service to our country.
Representative Tarah Toohil
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Contact: Rep. Toohil’s Office