Vets bonuses total more than $900,000 in Defiance six-county area

By MARC KOVAC @ohiocapitalblog C-N Capital Bureau Published:

COLUMBUS -- The state has paid nearly $65 million in bonuses to veterans of recent and ongoing military conflicts, via a constitutional amendment OK'd by voters five years ago.

More than 80,000 military men and women have received the payments to date, according to new statistics from the Ohio Department of Veterans Services.

Locally, 1,211 claims have been filed totaling $908,700 in the six-county area. Defiance County had 215 claims totaling about $159,000. Fulton had 270 claims totaling $194,000, followed by Williams (236 claims, $177,700), Putnam (199 claims totaling $160,000), Henry (186 claims, $135,000), and Paulding (105 claims, $83,000).

In November 2009, voters signed off on a constitutional amendment allowing the state to borrow up to $200 million to pay cash bonuses to Ohio military men and women who served at least 90 days of active duty in the Persian Gulf, Afghanistan and Iraq in current conflicts in those areas, plus those involved in Operation Desert Storm in the early 1990s.

Eligible veterans are being paid $100 for each month, up to $1,000, for time served in those areas or $50 a month, up to $500, for those serving in other locations at the time. Families of veterans who died in action are eligible for a $5,000 death benefit.

Persian Gulf War-era veterans had to apply for the payments by the end of last year. Veterans who served during the most recent Iraqi conflict (between March 19, 2003, and Dec. 31, 2011) have until the end of this year to apply, while there has been no deadline set yet for those who have served during the Afghanistan war.

Similar cash bonuses were approved by voters and paid to veterans of other wars and conflicts, dating back to World War I, though the deadline for those payments has long since passed.

Additional information about the veterans bonus program is available online at www.veteransbonus.ohio.gov or by calling 877-644-6838.

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