Local vets council gets piece of grant

Nine organizations statewide, including the Warren County Veterans Council, will receive funds as the Pennsylvania Veterans’ Trust Fund disperses grant money for the first time.

The local veterans council has been awarded $8,000, according to a Monday press release from the Pennsylvania Department of Military and Veterans Affairs (DMVA), “to provide assistance to veterans in need.”

While the grant is only a small portion of the total $342,020 being dispersed during the inaugural round of funding, it is one of only three being issued to an organization working at a local level.

“If we receive funding, our goal will be [to] put [it] into the veterans emergency fund to assist Warren County veterans with emergency needs,” Ed Burris, Warren County Veterans Council president, said in a Monday e-mail. “With that said, if we get funding, we have to see what the reporting criteria is going to be… there is much more paperwork to complete to see if we can meet the requirements of the grant. All those forms are being mailed and additional information has to be sent to the state.”

Grants of up to $250,000 and five mini-grants of up to $10,000 were available. Non-profits and veterans service organizations were eligible to apply for the grants.

According to the release, the grants were awarded “to provide programs and projects to support Pennsylvania veterans and their families.”

In total, DMVA received 16 applications from 13 distinct organizations for grant funding, representing $902,650.16 in requests.

The nine organizations ultimately awarded grants have cited a total of $128,408.69 in matching funds. Together with the $342,020 awarded, this will bring total funding of projects for the groups to $470,428.69.

“This is the first time ever that grants from the Veterans’ Trust Fund are being awarded, and Pennsylvania’s veterans and their families will soon be the fortunate beneficiaries,” said Maj. Gen. Wesley Craig, Pennsylvania’s adjutant general, in the Monday DMVA press release. “The source of funds in the Veterans’ Trust Fund has grown significantly thanks to Pennsylvanians who have voluntarily made a $3 donation when applying for or renewing their driver’s license or photo ID and renewing a motor vehicle registration, as well as proceeds from the sale of the ‘Honoring our Veterans’ license plate.”

“Our goal with the Veterans’ Trust Fund is to build and expand partnerships with charitable organizations, veterans service organizations and county directors of veterans affairs to fund improved assistance and support for Pennsylvania veterans and their families,” said Brig. Gen. Jerry Beck Jr., deputy adjutant general for veterans affairs, in the DMVA release. “This is just the beginning and we’ll be announcing additional grant opportunities as we move forward.”

The other grants awarded, contingent upon completion of a grant agreement, were:

Berks Counseling Center – $10,000 grant for ‘Helping Hands’ to provide supportive services to veterans and their families.

Marine Corps League of Pennsylvania Foundation, Inc. – $10,000 grant for ‘Humanitarian Aid Grants’ to assist a larger number of Marines and their families.

Operation Homefront PA/DE – $10,000 grant for ‘Emergency Financial Assistance’ to veterans in need.

Veterans Multi-Service Center – $10,000 grant for ‘Women Veterans Still Marching’ to provide outreach and awareness support to women veterans.

Veterans Multi-Service Center – $120,000 grant for a PA Veterans IT Training/Job Placement Program.

Easter Seals Western and Central Pennsylvania – $59,608 for Project Beacon Retreat Weekends to offer additional retreat weekends for children of service members over the next two years.

Pennsylvania Wounded Warriors Inc. – $50,000 for Match PA Wounded Warrior Dollars – 100 Homeless/Vets in Crisis to provide matching funds for emergency assistance to veterans in need.

Philadelphia Veterans’ Comfort House – $37,412 for Operation Able Assist/ Mental Health Expansion to expand Operation Able Assist and offer full-time mental health services to veterans.

An additional grant of $27,000 was awarded to the Berks County Department of Veterans Affairs, the only applicant, as part of a program open to county directors of veterans affairs to finance programs focusing on health care enrollment and veterans outreach for the Berks County Veterans Affairs Roadshow.