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90,000 vets still eligible for Ohio bonus

Improving financial literacy training and helping veterans claim the Ohio Veterans Bonus were among key points made by State Rep. Connie Pillich, as she began the first leg of her statewide veterans roundtable discussion Wednesday afternoon in Dayton.

“The most important thing in my mind is that we shed our partisan skin and we realize that there is no Democratic way or Republican way of doing things, there’s just the right way,” Pillich said. “It’s time we work together, as a community, to do the right thing for our veterans and military families.”

Pillich said as many as 90,000 eligible veterans may still qualify for the Ohio Veterans Bonus, which gives a maximum of $1,000 to veterans who served during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. She said Persian Gulf veterans are no longer eligible, and Iraq veterans have until Dec. 31 to claim their bonus.

“We want to say thank you to everyone that served,” Pillich said. “Unfortunately, 90,000 veterans may still be eligible, but have not yet applied and we don’t know how to reach them.”

Pillich is proposing that a check box is added to Ohio income tax returns for veterans to identify themselves as a means of keeping track of them. She said checking the box is voluntary.

After speaking for about 15 minutes at VFW Post 3283 in Huber Heights, Pillich turned the floor over to the veterans, who voiced concerns with circumventing red tape through the Veterans Affairs office, multiple deployments of veterans and Ohio House Bill 325, which clarifies the law surrounding charitable video bingo by veterans, fraternal and sporting organizations.

VFW Quartermaster Jack Brankamp said if House Bill 325 is not passed through the senate, the future of VFW posts could be in jeopardy.

“Hopefully she can do something to help us out on House Bill 325,” Brankamp said. “If it doesn’t get sent through like it should, there’s not going to be a lot of VFWs. That’s where we get our funding to stay open.”

Brankamp described the roundtable as a productive way to express concerns with veteran financial affairs.

“It’s really good to discuss these issues with somebody,” Brankamp said.

Pillich will make additional stops on her tour in Cincinnati, Columbus, Toledo, Cleveland and Youngstown.

Pillich — a Gulf War U.S. Air Force veteran — is a candidate for Ohio treasurer and will oppose incumbent Josh Mandel in November.

“As a Marine Corps veteran who served two tours in Iraq, Treasurer Mandel has been very involved with veterans’ issues throughout the state. He welcomes people from both sides of the aisle in supporting our veterans because caring for our veterans is not a partisan issue,” Mandel’s office said in a prepared statement.

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