MINNEAPOLIS -- Minnesota veterans who served in the two decades following the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks can now apply for one-time bonuses approved by the Minnesota Legislature this year.
There is $25 million total set aside for the program, which includes checks for $600 or $1,200 depending on service for post-9/11 veterans, and $2,000 for Gold Star families whose loved ones paid the ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty.
"Our service members and their families make incredible sacrifices to preserve the safety and freedom of our state, nation, and world," Gov. Tim Walz said in a statement. "This bonus recognizes the service and sacrifices our heroes who answered the call to protect all of us."
The Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs saw nearly 2,000 apply on Thursday, which was the first day the state took applications, said Anne Sonnee, the agency's communications director. More than 40,000 veterans are eligible.
Minnesota has a long history of this sort of recognition, she said, dating back to World War I. Those early applicants could see the money as early as next week.
William Kettle, who spent 30 years in the United States Navy with multiple deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan, said the bonuses were a welcome surprise.
"It's nice to be remembered and it was very unexpected," he said. "I certainly qualified for it, and feel like I earned it so I applied for it."
Dan Tengwall, a U.S. Army veteran and now a Carver County veterans service officer, believes the bonuses create a new opening to connect with veterans who might not know what else is available to them.
Every county has veterans service officers that help veterans navigate benefits and programs designed for them. Carver County saw several emails seeking assistance with applying for the service bonuses, Tengwell said.
"It's a great way to show thanks but on top of that, [we]—our advocates—are looking forward to the opportunity to connect with a lot of vets and serve them," he said of the bonuses.
Tengwell expected the bonuses would come but didn't know when, and he praised the veterans organizations that pushed for the legislation, which also includes provisions to combat veteran homelessness and funding to support veterans homes.
The bill isfor being stand-alone legislation focused on just veterans' issues, not tethered to other policy priorities or subject to
What are the criteria?
There are three payment tiers of $600, $1,200, and $2,000. Those who served between Sept. 11, 2001 and Aug. 30, 2021 qualify.
If a veteran did not receive an Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, Iraq Campaign Medal, or Afghanistan Campaign Medal during that time period, they are eligible for $600. If they received one of the medals, they qualify for $1,200.
Families of those who served and died during that time as a result of a service-related injury can receive $2,000.
Applications will remain open through June 2024 or until the funds run out.
Veterans must have lived in Minnesota at the time they entered into active duty and currently reside in the state, according to the law's provisions.
To learn more or apply, click here.
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