An estimated 20,000 Pennsylvania military veterans have not yet applied for a state-run bonus program recognizing their service in the Persian Gulf in 1990-91, according to the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs. The benefit was authorized by Act 29 of 2006, the Persian Gulf Conflict Veterans’ Benefit Act.
Since World War I, the Commonwealth has recognized its war veterans by paying a veterans' benefit, commonly called a ''bonus,'' to veterans who served honorably during specified war or armed conflict periods. These bonus payments have been funded by bond issues that were approved by the voters of this Commonwealth. For the Persian Gulf Conflict (August 1990 to August 1991), the General Assembly passed legislation establishing the Program in April 2006, and the funding for the bonus payments was approved by the voters of this Commonwealth in the November 2006 general election.
The bonus pays $75 per month for qualifying, active-duty service members, up to a $525 maximum. Payments are calculated in accordance with a formula set forth in the statute. For personnel who died through illness or injury received in the line of duty, there is an additional $5,000 available to the surviving family. Service members who were declared prisoners of war may also be eligible for an additional $5,000.
To qualify the veteran must have:
· Served with the U.S. Armed Forces, a reserve component of the U.S. Armed Forces or the Pennsylvania National Guard.
· Served on active duty in the Persian Gulf theater of operations during the period from Aug. 2, 1990 until Aug. 31, 1991, and received the Southwest Asia Service Medal.
· Been a legal resident of Pennsylvania at the time of active service.
Individuals who received a bonus or similar compensation from any other state are not eligible for the Pennsylvania program. The deadline for applying for benefits under this program is Aug. 31, 2015.
For detailed instructions on how to apply, visit www.persiangulfbonus.state.pa.us.
Many veterans are unaware of the many benefits that may be due them as a result of their service. For example, many older veterans who are over are 65 and who have high health care related costs are unaware that they may qualify for a pension. See my earlier post Over age 65 and a Veteran? Don't miss out on VA Pension Benefits for more information on the VA pension program as it applies for older veterans.