The Indiana Department of Veterans Affairs wants more Hoosier military families to be aware of the help they can get from the state’s Military Family Relief Fund. And the agency is using a new law to help pay for an awareness campaign.
The fund provides up to $2,500 to veterans and their families who are struggling with financial issues – anything from utilities and rent to medical bills to emergency car repairs.
Department of Veterans Affairs director Dennis Wimer said the state needs to do a better job of making eligible Hoosiers aware of it, in part because having them come in for the relief fund can connect them to so much other help.
“So, we have workforce resources. We have financial counseling resources," Wimer said. "We have some mental health resources. We have legal resources.”
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To pay for its ongoing awareness campaign, the department will use money from the relief fund itself, made possible by a new change in law. The fund’s money primarily comes from military service license plates. Legislation from this year, SB 316, allows the agency to use up to 10 percent of the annual license plate revenue for marketing and promotion.
Wimer said that won’t affect the benefits paid out to Hoosiers in need.
"It will not reduce the amount of money that we actually have available because we’ve got money that hasn’t been spent over the years," he said.
The campaign will be ongoing and involve a variety of different methods. Wimer said the department will constantly evaluate the most effective methods of communicating with veterans and their families.