COLUMBUS — On Aug., 30, 2021, the United States officially ceased its military involvement in Afghanistan. As a result, the Ohio Veterans Bonus program associated with the Afghanistan Conflict, which the Ohio Department of Veterans Services (ODVS) administers, is nearing its completion.
Through the support of Ohio Governor Mike DeWine and the State Legislature, a $9.5 million measure was included in the state's biennial budget in order to sustain the program, which will sunset at the end of next summer. The Office of Budget and Management (OBM) authorized that transfer to our agency.
These funds will ensure that ODVS can make a rigorous final push to pay every eligible veteran — including those who may have been denied payment because of correctable technicalities or other impediments. The money total is based on Department of Defense deployment figures and the number of applicants and payouts that already have been made to Ohio veterans.
The Ohio Veterans Bonus program offers a bonus for those who served in the U.S. Armed Forces after October 7, 2001. Once a veteran has received $500 for service anywhere in the world or $1,000 for service in a designated country, or the maximum $1,500 bonus, the veteran is not eligible for additional funds, even if they served in multiple conflicts. Those service members who completed their deployments in Afghanistan and have not yet applied for the Ohio Veterans Bonus can do so up until Aug. 30, 2024.
Since 2010, the Ohio Veteran Bonus has paid $78 million to more than 97,000 veterans from the Persian Gulf, Afghanistan, and Iraq Wars. Historically, the vast majority of applicants are eligible. The current number of payouts for Ohioans who served in Afghanistan is 20,320. (Note: This figure reflects the number of applications that have been paid, not the total number of recipients, since an applicant can apply until they receive the maximum bonus. In fact, a veteran could apply three or four times before they receive a full $1,500.)
"I am thrilled that Governor DeWine and the Ohio Legislature have fully funded this program so that all who served during the Afghanistan conflict receive the Bonus they have earned. This Bonus is a wonderful form of gratitude, like a heartfelt 'thank you' from the citizens of Ohio. We at the Department of Veterans Services are doing everything we can to encourage all eligible veterans and service members to apply." — Maj. Gen. (U.S. Army, retired) Deborah Ashenhurst, ODVS Director
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