Big bonuses on the way for Ohio Vets

By Stefano DiPietrantonio – bio |email|Facebook

CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - If you know a veteran of the armed forces, active or retired, make sure they know about an announcement made Tuesday that will affect thousands of soldiers.

"Somebody knows somebody who's served or is serving now," said State Representative Connie Pillich, who sponsored the bill that is bringing smiles to servicemen and women all over Ohio.

Veterans and active-duty soldiers all across the tri-state are just learning about bonus checks coming their way.

It is a $50 million plan that's been in the works for two years and Tuesday was the first day the application became available to vets.

Ohio has given bonuses to the veterans of five wars before this. The Civil War, World Wars I And II, Korea and Vietnam.

Now, 200,000 soldiers who have served in the Persian Gulf, Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts across the Buckeye State get their turn.

You have to have entered active duty from Ohio and be an Ohio resident now. You could still be on active duty. Either way, you've got cash coming.

Retired Army Specialist, Gulf War Vet and mother of four girls, Joyce Leneave, is excited about the bonus.

"$50 a month up to $500 and that's wonderful," Leneave said.

With an 18-year-old daughter about to enter college and 3 more girls, including 2-year-old Rhiannon, who is still in diapers, the expenses are piling-up.

"It was a shocker because I pretty much thought my time was done and over with," Leneave said.

Leneave and 200,000 veterans across Ohio are eligible for this cash bonus right now.

"That's a significant population here in Ohio and I want to make sure everyone has the chance to learn about it," said State Rep Pillich, who is also a US Air Force Vet. She has been pushing for this for 2 years.

To qualify, you have to have served active duty, in either the Gulf War, Iraq or Afghanistan conflicts.

"You could potentially get all three bonuses," Pillich said.

If you served in the war theater, you are eligible.

"In the sandbox," Pillich said. "You get a hundred dollars per month of your service up to a maximum of a thousand dollars."

"I served stateside and I also served in Europe," Leneave said. "I actually did not go over, I stayed at the European Command Center, so I would be considered a supporter."

"If you served in a supportive role that is, not in the combat area," Pillich said. "You can get up to 50 dollars per month, up to 500 dollars maximum."

Local families who've lost loved ones to war are also eligible for the bonus.

"They should be eligible yes," Pillich said. "And the death benefit is $5,000 and that's good for if you are killed in-action, missing in-action, or you died from injuries subsequently."

Leneave enlisted young.

"I was a kid," she said. "And I was tired of people telling me what to do and I thought, well I'm going to leave and join the Army."

Which is where she spent the better part of 4 years being told, "what to do".

Leneave said she is eager to get her application filled out.

"There is some work involved and it's a lengthy application," Pillich said.

"I looked over it with Connie," Leneave said. "It really doesn't look like there's much to it."

The application is six pages.

"We anticipate about 8 weeks," Pillich said. "So get your applications in now so you have money for Christmas."

The bonus is exempt from Ohio taxes but not from the Feds.

Look for State Rep. Pillich at any veterans organization in the 28th District. She'll be there to answer questions in the coming weeks.

Here are some helpful links and phone numbers to get you started. You can download the application for the bonus at:

Or call: 1-877OHIOVET

Or stop by: The Hamilton County Department Of Veterans Services, 230 East 9th Street in downtown Cincinnati. Their phone number is: 513-946-3300.

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