By State Sen. Chris Garten (R-Charlestown)
In the 2021 session, I championed Senate Enrolled Act 316, which has allowed more military families to receive grants through the Military Family Relief Fund (MFRF) by expanding the number of veterans who are eligible for the Fund.
The MFRF was created to assist Indiana veterans and their legal dependents who are enduring financial difficulties. If awarded a grant, a veteran or family can use the funds for housing, utilities, food, transportation and medical services.
In addition to expanding eligibility, SEA 316 built safeguards in law to reduce the possibility of the Indiana Department of Veterans' Affairs (IDVA) overspending on administrative costs while still allowing for the promotion and marketing of the MFRF to increase awareness of this opportunity.
Because of these changes, IDVA reached out to applicants who had previously been denied and encouraged them to reapply for a MFRF grant. This resulted in a total of $20,000 in grant funding being awarded because these veterans were now able to qualify under the expanded eligibility requirements.
SEA 316 went into effect on July 1, 2021. Since then, the number of applicants for the MFRF has increased 170% and the number of grants awarded increased by 118%. I am also pleased to report that an average of $39,000 has been granted to veterans and their families each month since SEA 316 has been in effect compared to the previous monthly average of $17,900.
Veterans can receive up to $2,500 through a MFRF grant. This grant is available to veterans with wartime or peacetime service who are Indiana residents and meet the other eligibility criteria.
I want to make sure veterans and their families have access to this Fund because receiving a grant from this program could make a monumental difference in their lives. As a Gunnery Sergeant in the Marine Corps and having served 2 combat tours in Iraq, I personally understand what our veteran community goes through. When a Hoosier raises their right hand and swears an oath to the United States, I want every Veteran to know that I have the same commitment to them as they do to our country.
For more information or to apply, visit in.gov/dva and click on "Military Family Relief Fund."
If you have questions about this or other issues, never hesitate to contact my office at 800-382-9467 or Senator.Garten@iga.in.gov.