By Randy Pierce
People who have served in the nation’s armed forces and now live in St. Clair County who are suffering because of difficult financial conditions they are experiencing may find support in a special commission set up for their benefit as a result of the Illinois Military Veterans Assistance Act which was passed in 2011.
The St. Clair County Veterans Assistance Commission is an agency that offers temporary financial assistance by providing qualified recipients with vouchers for food and hygiene items along with rent and utilities.
This assistance is based on a sliding scale which increases the level of support as the size of the family receiving it increases based on maximum gross income.
The food vouchers are made out to specific local area grocery stores which recipients can find out about when they qualify. For utility help, the financial assistance is provided on the basis of usage as shown on the most recent billing with a maximum limit of $300 per month and no provisions for past due amounts.
This is also the way the rental assistance works and there is no help with deposits or overdue payments. Rent support is not offered to anyone giving assistance to the applicant, only to veterans who qualify or their legal spouses. Along with United States military veterans, those who may qualify include widows or minor-age children of veterans.
Another requirement is that the recipient veteran provide a form or that one be available from the National Personnel Records Center indicating the individual’s discharge from the military service was honorable with no indication of misconduct.
To qualify, the maximum gross monthly income for an individual should not exceed $667 while it is $873 for couples or two people in a family. The income limit raises from there as the number of members of the family increases with it set at $1184 for three up to $2100 for 10.
In cases where those veterans, widows or minor children exceed those income limits, they may petition for consideration on a per case basis if they can show evidence of an unusual situation which has put them into enough of a financial bind that they need to receive the temporary aid.
It is also possible for a one-time assistance grant to be provided to the recipient over the income limits with such requests to be considered by the superintendent of the commission.
The application process requires the providing of certain documents and the completion of other paperwork within a specific period of time. The falsification of documents will disqualify applicants from receiving assistance plus they will have to face the possibility of prosecution by the St. Clair County state’s attorney’s office which will be notified if such actions are discovered.
Charles E. Lee of Mascoutah is the SCCVAC president. The agency has an office at 19 Public Square, Suite 300, in Belleville and its phone number is (618) 277-0040.
Other places to get assistance in this area include the Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs, 4511 West Main Street, Belleville, (618) 233-5140 or 10 Collinsville Avenue, East St. Louis, IL 62201, (618) 583-2065 and the Illinois Department of Employment Security, 4519 West Main Street, Belleville, IL (618) 277-5678 or 601 James R. Thompson Boulevard, East St. Louis, IL 62201, (618) 271-7750.