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Bonus deadline for Iraq War veterans is Dec. 31

Norwalk Reflector Staff • May 19, 2014 at 4:07 PM

Veterans who served in Iraq between 2003 and 2011 have until Dec. 31, 2014 to apply for the Ohio Veterans Bonus and receive a financial reward for their wartime service. Eligible veterans must have served in the country of Iraq during the period of March 19, 2003 through Dec. 31, 2011.

No deadline has been announced for veterans who served in Afghanistan, or anywhere else in the world, since Oct. 7, 2001.

“I urge every veteran who served in Iraq to take the time to apply for the Bonus – Dec. 31 will be here before you know it,” said Ohio Department of Veterans Services Director Tim Gorrell. “We’ve had a great response to the Bonus, but we’re also going to keep working to get the word out. So I’m also asking every veteran, every veteran service organization, and friends and family members of veterans to reach out and let other veterans know about this opportunity.”

The Ohio Veterans Bonus is open to veterans who served anywhere in the world during the time of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The amount of the Bonus is higher for those who served in Iraq or Afghanistan. It is also open to the next of kin of those who were killed in action or died of disease as a result of in-theater service. The Bonus is not subject to federal or state taxes, and can be used for any purpose. To date, nearly $65 million has been paid to more than 80,000 veterans and families.

The specific criteria for award of the Ohio Veterans Bonus is service in the Armed Forces, anywhere in the world, of more than 90 days active duty, not for training, during the periods of the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan and Iraq. For Iraq, the eligible period is from March 19, 2003 through December 31, 2011; for Afghanistan, it is from Oct. 7, 2001 through a date to be determined by the President. Eligible veterans must have been Ohio residents at the time of their entry into the service, and must be Ohio residents at the time they apply.

The bonus pays $100 a month to veterans who served in Iraq or Afghanistan, up to a maximum of $1,000. For veterans who served elsewhere, the payment is $50 a month up to a $500 maximum. Veterans medically discharged due to injuries sustained in combat can receive $1,000, 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.

Veterans needing more information or to request an application can call toll-free to 1-877-OHIO VET (1-877-644-6838) option 2, visit www.veteransbonus.ohio.gov , or visit any county veterans service office (see www.dvs.ohio.gov for an interactive map of the county offices). The department also provides information about the Bonus through its social media and at veterans’ events, and has advertised the program statewide.

Ohio voters approved the Ohio Veterans Bonus by an overwhelming margin in November 2009. The law implementing the Bonus set a deadline for Persian Gulf War era veterans of  Dec. 31, 2013. This same law set the deadline for Iraq War veterans as the third year following a date determined by the President as the end of the conflict. This date was set as the termination date of the Iraq Campaign Medal, which was Dec. 31, 2011, making the deadline for Bonus applications for service in Iraq Dec. 31, 2014. The clock will not start on a deadline for Afghanistan veterans until the President determines a date for the war’s end.

The Ohio Veterans Bonus continues a tradition of bonuses to reward Ohio veterans that dates back to the Civil War; however, these other war bonuses are now closed.

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