When a vet returns home, the federal government steps up with a few perks to thank them for their service. Most states offer benefits, as well. According to military.com:
State benefits range from free college and employment resources to free hunting and fishing licenses. Most states also offer tax breaks for their veterans and specialized license plates, some states even provide their veterans with cash bonuses just for serving in the military.
Kentucky has offered a cash bonus to its veterans for many years. Chapter 40 of the KRS (Kentucky Revised Statutes) focuses on Kentucky veterans. Section 40.005 outlines a $300-$500 cash bonus for vets from the Spanish-American War, World War I, World War II, and the Korean conflict. Section 40.440 outlines pretty much the same thing for Vietnam vets: a cash bonus based on time in the service with a cap of $500.
Although Kentuckians have certainly been joining up and shipping off since Vietnam, there was no bonus in place for any service person after that conflict. Veterans between the late 1970s and early 2000s — collectively known as our Gulf War-era veterans — weren’t receiving a benefit.
Then, in 2006, with an eye to rectifying this once and for all, the Kentucky General Assembly passed HB314 — unanimously in both chambers — implementing a different bonus: a personal loan program for Kentucky’s newest veterans for up to $10,000 at reduced interest. This loan was to be used to help veterans get back on their feet after risking life, fortune and sacred honor for their country.
The money would come from the Veteran’s Trust Fund, which is funded by the state income tax checkoff, plus the sale of veteran vehicle license plates.
This sounds perfectly reasonable and admirable, yes?
Sounds good, but guess what?
Even though the bill was signed into law in 2006, and promises made to Kentucky veterans, nothing has been done to implement this program! Nada.
So not only have none of our service men and women since the late 1970s received the same bonus given to previous generations of veterans, they don’t get to apply for the loan either! Even though the legislature and the KDVA (Ky Depart of Veterans Affairs) have promised it since 2006.
Nice way to treat people who have risked everything for you, right?
Let’s back up a little. HB314’s resulting statute KRS 40.650 requires the KDVA to promulgate rules and regulations for the loan program:
It’s been a decade since that bill was passed and the statute entered on the books. Kentucky veterans have gone off to serve believing that when they came home, they could apply for a $10,000 loan to get them started in civilian life.
Yet, today, almost 10 years later, those regulations have never been promulgated.
In 2011, a veteran friend of mine wrote to Beshear asking about this. Beshear passed it to Kenneth Lucas, then Commissioner of the KDVA. Lucas replied saying those regs HAD been promulgated. Huh? Yesterday, I called the LRC and searched the KAR, but they are nowhere to be found.
Next I called the office of the current KDVA Commissioner, Heather French Henry. Maybe I just couldn’t find them? I was told no, the regs aren’t promulgated. That won’t happen till after the program has been funded. Why would Lucas lie?
So, 10 years later, not a penny has been funded, not a reg written, not a single loan made to a Kentucky veteran, not a single bonus paid.
Although somehow this “benefit” made it to the military.com site. Click on Kentucky on the main page and you read this:
It’s not about the money.
How can Kentucky make this promise of a hand up, make it for 10 years, then just never follow through? Just leave veterans hanging? Have them call to find out where to apply only to be told, “Oh sorry, we never got around to funding that. We did pass a sweet pension bill, though. Well, good luck.”
Advocates of the program are understandably upset about this. They have been asking Kentucky’s GA to obey the law and have been virtually ignored. Steve Beshear’s administration has failed to make this right.
In 2012, Ky House Rep Richard Henderson filed a bill to fund the Veterans’ Personal Loan Program with $5,000,000. It died in Committee. Which committee? The Veterans, Military Affairs, & Public Safety Committee.
Seriously. The Beshear administration found $400,000,000 to build a website, but the Veteran’s Affairs Committee couldn’t find FIVE for our veterans?
This needs to be fixed.
It’s immoral, unethical and illegal to keep making a promise you KNOW you won’t keep! Lucas knew it, Henry knows it, Beshear knows it. Plenty of Ky GA legislators know about it and have known about it for years. They all say they’ll “look into it.” Henry and two legislators who currently sit on the Veterans’ Affairs Committee said these exact words just 6 weeks ago!
Instead, we get the same old song and dance. Sadly, us everyday citizens are so used to it, some of us sing along. But to sock it to veterans, their widows and families this way? That’s just about as low as it gets.
EDITOR’S NOTE: I spoke to Matt Bevin about this last Sunday before the EKU debate. He and Jenean Hampton, his running mate, are both veterans. He got the picture immediately, and promised that, as Governor, I could bring this back to him and he’ll do everything he can to fix it. He won’t “look into it”, he’ll fix it. You bet I’m going to hold him to it. I hope you will, too.
Advocates want this funded or repealed. They want the state of Kentucky to stop lying to its new recruits: “Sign up and get this great bonus.” The one that doesn’t exist because Kentucky’s GA is too busy with today’s politically correct agenda.
#1 We take $10,000 annually out of each Kentucky legislator’s pension (anyone now getting a pension past, present and future) to fund the program. Kill two birds with one stone. I doubt that will make it out of committee either.
#2 One group has put together a viable proposal to fund the program via a joint effort between the KDVA and Kentucky banks. They’ve also suggested a choice for vets: either get a one-time $500 bonus like other Kentucky veterans have, or apply for the loan. This sounds workable.
We just need someone in the #KyGov’s seat to care about Kentucky’s veterans! My money’s on Bevin.
This is worth Kentucky’s attention.
The goodwill to be generated by this program is sorely and desperately needed here in Kentucky. Not only would a little trust in state government be reborn when the program is finally implemented and we stop lying to our veterans, but the true intent of Kentucky’s Gulf War-era Veteran’s Bonus program would be realized: a hand up to the men and women who risked everything for us.
It’s about time, don’t you think?
I am an Iraqi freedom vet.I was injured while over seas in Germany.No the war wasn’t in Germany but the F-16 and A-10s I worked on was. They were weekly biweekly and monthly trips to the war in Afghanistan and in Iraq. I have had to struggle for the past 12 yrs because due to my injuries I can no longer hold down a job. I used to have wants and everything just like everyone else. But then I had to grow up. And when I did I realized my wants were replaced with needs. Like I need a home to live in I need money to pay my electric bill I need money to buy food because I don’t get foodstamps. I need money to pay the cable bill I need money,well you get the idea right. Well while I was in the hospital learning to walk talk chew food do math read write figure out who my family is or was or however you say that I was promised by so many older vets and so many V.A. reps saying oh son were going to take care of you we are going g to make sure you don’t have to worry we’ll make sure you get a income from the military/V.A. And you k ow I was dumb enough to believe them.
What makes me a lil different from other vets is the fact that I had volunteered while on Active Duty to be deployed and my base was one of the most deploying bases in the Air Force. Spangdahlem, Germany.Yes I loved it over there what I can Remember of it.Due to my brain injuries. And then after I got out of the hospital the VA Drs told me not to worry bout anything to just go home.I told them I can’t just go home I am active duty and I have a job to do and a country to fight for. The Droctors all told me at the Huntington WVa V.A go on home son and heal we’ll take care of the military. So me being the aggervated person I was at that time cause I couldn’t go back to my job I went home. I continued to go to the VA and get my meds I needed for my head injuries my mood disorders my sleep disorders and my memory disorders.And I guess where they must do audit of patients that attend the wva veteran hospitals some officer saw online that I was doctoring at the VA and that I was actually alive. I was like wow! So the officers and Sgt.come to my mother and father’s house to meet me from Rite Patterson AFB in Ohio. Soon as I greet them at the door I immediately invite them in and my manners not being as good as I shoulda remembered the officer reaches out to shake my hand and says sir may I shake your hand. Now this was a turn around a officer asking a enlisted man to shake hands and calling me sir. So of course I said yes sir.well he shakes my hand and says I just wanted to be able to do that. I asked why and he said well son now I can go back tobase and tell the men I just shook and deaf man’s hand and he was standing up living and breathing. I was kinda confused wondering if something had happened I didn’t know about…not really but he said the Air Force had listed me as dead in Germany. I was listed as D.O.A in Germany and that shocked me . So I asked him well sir should I stay dead I didn’t know whhT to do. Not actually a lil humor for ya. Anyway they came and retired me.and ever since I have been trying to make it on a monthly income that I wouldn’t expect any type of person to survive on. But that’s what we as soliders learn to do is survive right? So now I read that the state of KY is offering it’s vets of the gulf war era which I’m guessing includes me seeing how I am a post 9/11 war vet.and I got hurt while on Active Duty waiting on a 72 hr hold waiting to go be deployed to Iraq in July31,2004. A 10,000 dollar loan to help us get situated in civilian life. And then I have to read it was promised and it never happened. So pretty much just like those guys I heard it from in the rehabilitation hospitals where I was learning to walk and talk and chew food from again in Brook Army Medical center I was there cause of really bad burns I was inz The burn unit there. And I heard it from the same people in Richmond VA in the Big VA hospital there AND in the Huntington WVa VA hospital. Hey I am glad I received the medical care I got in order just to be able to breath. But now that I am alive and breathing good I’d kinda no I would like to be able to get some kind of help to get me a home and a vehicle so that I don’t have to jump and move from place to place based on how much money I can come up with. I just want my own place to live. Some place where I can call home and not have to worry about someone kicking me out on the streets and sleeping in the cold and in Cars. And maybe if the VA can’t help me buy my own home maybe they can give me a lil assistance in coming up with a lil lump sum to pay some bills to have turned on electric cable water heat trash bill ECT.i mean I am already 40% disabled on my head injuries and 20%disabled from my arm and scars injuries. And I am also Service connected.
Signed Jason Goble
Thanks for reading