A report issued by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, stated that $5.4 billion dollars was spent on veterans services in the state of Pennsylvania in 2015. Most of this expenditure went to such services as medical care, compensation for disabilities, and pensions. Currently, there are 473,000 veterans in the state who are age 65, or over. Reports seem to suggest that many veterans do not take advantage of all of the benefits and programs to which they are entitled. While most veterans are aware of the medical services offered, many Pennsylvania vets do not realize that they could enjoy additional services that include housing, loans, educational support, and even emergency cash assistance in times of trouble. Female veteran populations within the state have grown over the last few years, and projections indicate that they will continue to rise. This has created additional programs specifically geared toward women veterans’ needs. As one of the nation’s largest veteran populations, Pennsylvania is committed to continuing to offer exemplary programs, services, and assistance to those vets who need them.
Veterans Temporary Assistance in Pennsylvania
There are several programs that are available as a temporary service to veterans and their families. The programs will determine the level of need, and the applicant will need to fill out the appropriate paperwork in order to be considered. Temporary assistance can be issued to cover a wide range of needs. These are two of the more popular programs for vets in PA.
Need for Temporary Assistance Program
The program’s purpose is to provide assistance to qualified veterans who are Pennsylvania residents, and who are unable to provide the necessities of life for themselves, or their family. Many who apply for this program have lost their job and do not quality for unemployment, have suffered a prolonged medical illness (or a family member’s illness), or cost of living expenses rose sharply.
MFRAP Military Family Relief Assistance Program
Financial assistance is given to eligible service members residing in PA, who have an immediate and direct need due to circumstances outside of their control. This is also a temporary financial assistance program, which is funded through grants. The award amount can vary due to the way it is funded.
Housing Assistance to Pennsylvania Veterans
Extended care facilities operate within Pennsylvania, and are offered is six different locations. Skilled nursing and medical services developed for veterans are offered through this long term housing maintained by the Veterans Administration. For veterans who have a home, or are thinking of purchasing a home, PA offers veterans real estate exemptions on their taxes. Honorably discharged veterans, who are also disabled, can receive a discount on real estate taxes within the state.
Veterans who would like to obtain financing to repair, renovate, or purchase a home can obtain a VA backed loan. This loan guaranty program is offered to PA servicemembers, and requires no down payment on a home. In 2016 it was estimated that just on one night in January, within the state, there were over a thousand veterans who were homeless. While this shows a decrease from the previous year, the problem still continues to plague the state. Transitional and permanent housing options are offered to veterans who find themselves in a homeless situation. The HUD-VASH program offers subsidized living for low-income veterans who are, or will be, homeless. Many shelters and transitional shelters also offer mental health counseling, and substance abuse programs.
Educational Programs for Veterans in Pennsylvania
There are many educational programs in the state of Pennsylvania for veterans. Many of the public four-year colleges, as well as technical and community colleges offer priority scheduling for veterans. Additionally, the GI Bill offers tuition assistance, and depending on where the veteran attends, may cover most of the payments. The Marine Gunnery Sergeant John David Fry Scholarship is available for the children or spouses of service personnel who died in the line of duty after September 2001. Veterans who are transitioning back into civilian life can receive Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment (VR&E) services. This program is free and helps with job training and translation of military learned skills into civilian careers.
Health Care Information for Pennsylvania Veterans
Most veterans in Pennsylvania are covered for regular health insurance through TRICARE. Additional pensions are available to those veterans who are blind, amputees, or who are paralyzed. Veterans who served in the Persian Gulf conflict are also eligible for the bonus program, which offers an additional monetary award each month to qualified beneficiaries.
Burial and Memorial Services for Veterans in Pennsylvania
State and national veteran cemeteries are available for veterans’ families after their loved one has died. Burial expenses are covered and includes perpetual care, headstone or marker, a memorial flag, liners, and the opening and closing of the gravesite. Family members should make sure they have a copy of the discharge papers, and speak with a funeral director who is familiar with working with the VA. In some cases burial allowances may be issued. Military honors are always offered, but are not required. Funeral services are at the expense and arrangement of the family. Not all national and state cemeteries have openings. A current listing is maintained by the VA.