CHARLESTON, W.Va. – Since becoming Cabinet Secretary nearly two years ago, I have traveled to many parts of the state listening to the needs of veterans and sharing valuable information about the West Virginia Department of Veterans Assistance (WDVA). During these visits, I highlight our three facilities: the West Virginia Veterans Home in Barboursville, the West Virginia Veterans Nursing Facility in Clarksburg, and the Donel C. Kinnard Memorial State Veterans Cemetery in Dunbar. In addition, I want to be sure veterans are aware of our 16 field offices, available to help veterans file various types of claims, as well as our social workers who can help connect West Virginia veterans with other forms of assistance.
It seems the veteran community is becoming more familiar with what the WVDVA has to offer. They’ve also started to understand that we are not part of the federal VA system, but simply share with them the same goal—providing support and assistance to our state’s veterans. As a result, more West Virginia veterans are receiving both the state and federal benefits they deserve.
Still, there are programs offered by the WVDVA that many veterans may not be aware of. For example, veterans of WWII, Korea and Vietnam, who did not graduate from high school, may qualify to receive a high school diploma. There is also educational assistance available to some veterans who have exhausted their GI Bill benefits and for children or spouses of veterans who were killed in action.
Perhaps one of our most utilized benefits is the West Virginia Veterans Bonus. Since World War I, the state has been offering cash bonuses to veterans who served during certain periods of conflict and in designated combat areas. There is, however, a time frame in which veterans must apply. Currently, applications are being accepted for those who served during the War in Afghanistan (from October, 2001 through December, 2014). Legislation dictates that veterans may apply for a Bonus up to one year after a conflict’s official conclusion as declared by the President of the United States. For this reason, no applications will be accepted after the Afghanistan Bonus expires in December 2015.
The Bonus Program provides $400 to veterans who served during the designated time frame outside of the combat zone. And those who served inside the combat zone can receive a maximum of $600. If you are an Afghanistan veteran and have not yet received this Bonus from the state of West Virginia, please send us your application as soon as possible. Service members who are still enlisted, as well as those who have been Honorably Discharged, may qualify.
Information about the West Virginia Veterans Bonus and other programs offered by the WVDVA can be found at www.veterans.wv.gov/programs.
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