More than words; how Pennsylvania supports veterans

As Veterans Day nears, it’s important for us to extend our sincere appreciation to all veterans, active service members and their families who sacrifice immensely to defend our freedom.

Below are a number of programs and services available to help veterans and their families. Please share this list with any veterans in your life.

Lehigh Valley Department of Veteran’s Affairs

In this video, Tom Applebach, Lehigh County Director of Veteran’s Affair, discusses programs and benefits available in the Lehigh County for veterans and their families.

Veterans Temporary Assistance

Temporary help is available for veterans and their beneficiaries who need aid for essentials such as shelter, fuel, clothing and food. If eligible, a veteran or their beneficiary can qualify for up to $1,600 in a 12-month period.

The Disabled Veterans Real Estate Tax Exemption Program

Any honorably discharged veteran who is 100 percent disabled, a resident of Pennsylvania and has financial need can apply for this program, which provides real estate tax exemption on principal dwellings.

Educational Gratuity Program

Children of honorably discharged veterans with service-connected disabilities or children of veterans who died in service during a period of war or armed conflict qualify for up to $500 per semester/term to help defray educational costs.

Military Family Relief Assistance Program

Eligible Pennsylvania service members and their family members who have a direct and immediate financial need as a result of circumstances beyond their control can apply for up to $3,500 in grants. This program is available for active and past service members.

Veterans’ Trust Fund Grant Program

Grants are available for veterans’ services organizations, non-profit organizations with a mission of serving Pennsylvania veterans, individual eligible counties and the State Association of County Directors of Veterans Affairs. This year, a combined total of $800,000 is available. Please note, the application deadline for the 2018-2019 fiscal year is Dec. 14.

Veterans Cemeteries

Pennsylvania serves as home to three open national veterans cemeteries. Burial benefits for eligible veterans include a gravesite, a government headstone, a flag and a Presidential Memorial Certificate.

Veterans Discounts and Services

Countless businesses and venues around the country offer discounted prices and services to military personnel and their dependents as a way to say thank you for your service. The American Legion recently compiled a comprehensive list of businesses that offer discounts, including auto care, restaurants, theme parks and insurance.

Pennsylvania Driver’s License Veterans Designation

More than 500,000 Pennsylvania veterans have opted for the veterans designation – an American flag with the word VETERAN beneath – on their driver’s licenses since the program began in 2014. The designation does not entitle a veteran to any special consideration but rather is a patriotic way for veterans to show their pride and convey to others that they served in the United States military.

Honoring Our Veterans License Plates

A great way to show your respect for our veterans is by purchasing an Honoring Our Veterans license plate for your car, light-duty truck, or motorcycle. $15 from every plate sold will directly benefit the Veterans Trust Fund.

A complete list of programs and eligibility requirements, as well as applications and forms, are available here.

As always, if you have questions, comments or concerns, my office is happy to help.