A sad truth in our society is that many veterans who have been on active duty feel left behind and forgotten. After serving their country, veterans often return home with health complications, mental disorders, fractured relationships, career challenges, lack of housing, and more. Veterans feel left to fend for themselves and forgotten by a country they bravelydefended.
However, help is available in many forms, whether through disability benefits provided by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) or even in the forms of thousands of grants available to provide financial, housing, and employment assistance.
If you are a veteran seeking help, grants are an extremely important avenue to explore. We’ll take a look at the kinds of grants available to disabled veterans (with service disability or not) and the steps you can take to start receiving much-needed assistance.
VA Grants for Housing
Many disabled veterans return stateside from active duty military service to a home that no longer meets their daily needs. A disability can make even the most common daily tasks difficult, and veterans may be in need of housing modifications to accommodate their disabilities. Through the VA there are two grant types available: Special Housing Adaptation (SHA) and Specially Adapted Housing (SAH).
The SHA awards veterans up to $15,462 to modify a current home, modify a home the veteran is planning to purchase, or aid in the purchase of a home that is already adapted to accommodate the disability. The SAH awards veterans up to $77,307 to construct an adapted home on a lot that has not been purchased, construct an adapted home on land already owned, adapt an existing home, or to help pay off the mortgage on an adapted home when it was not purchased with a VA loan.
Many qualifications are needed to be eligible for these military service-connected disability grants and veterans of military service should start with the VA website to learn more.
Employment and Business Grants
Getting veterans back to work is critical, whether they are disabled or not. Transitioning back to life stateside is challenging, but finding work and a “purpose” can play a significant role in a veteran’s morale, mental health, and well-being. Many grants programs are focused on veteran employment for this reason.
Through the Veterans’ Employment and Training Service (which is part of the U.S. Department of Labor), the federal government offers many competitive grants for veteran employment programs. Nonprofits and public agencies are eligible to apply for these grants. These programs are in turn funded to provide employment training and assistance to veterans. Additionally, there are national foundations and corporations focused on such grants, such as the McCormick Foundation, the Kessler Foundation, and the Wal-Mart Foundation, to name a few.
The VA’s Special Employers Incentive Program also incentives companies to hire veterans by reimbursing them for up to half of the veteran’s salary. Numerous public and private initiatives have been aimed at veteran job training and placement in light of the high number of veterans who are homeless.
For veterans who are opening their own businesses, there is also support available in the form of VA grants. Veterans can obtain grants to fund equipment, inventory, supplies, marketing, and more, after submitting a business plan that is reviewed along with the veteran’s disability category. To learn more about this program, veterans should contact counselors in their local VA office to get started.
Other Financial Grants
Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) recognizes the financial hardships many veterans face, often as a result of being deployed for long periods of time or after coming home with an injury. To recognize the need for assistance they set up the Unmet Needs program, which provides financial aid grants of up to $1500 and they pay creditors directly. To review a list of qualified expenses and criteria see these guidelines from VFW. This financial assistance, which does not have to be repaid, can make a significant difference in easing hardships on veterans and their families.
Numerous veteran’s organizations offer financial assistance and emergency financial aid, which can assist veterans and their families as they cope with the challenges of disabilities or other service-connected issues.
The Money is There, but The Work is Up to You
These examples are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to grants and financial assistance available to veterans, disabled or otherwise. The challenge for many is knowing how and where to get started, as well as how to successfully fill out a grant application.
This is where a veteran’s organization may be able to act as an advocate or a VA counselor may be best suited to guide you through the process. You will first need to spend considerable time studying all of the grant and other financial opportunities available to you and those that would be most beneficial to your unique situation. Once you have narrowed down the field, you will also want to be sure you are eligible for your choices (remembering that benefits programs and grants may have stipulations related to your service and/or your disability).
In order to apply, you will need to ensure you have crafted a solid letter and application, which may be aided by the help of family members or a counselor from a veteran’s organization. Don’t be afraid to ask for help in this process! A second (or third) set of eyes could help you improve your application and your chances for success.
The bottom line is that help is available: it may take work on your part to see it, but it could make a tremendous difference for you and your family in the long term.