The program provides grants of up to $3,500 to Pennsylvania members of the armed forces and their families who have a direct and immediate financial need as a result of military service. The tax form includes instructions on how to donate.
“Pennsylvanians have an opportunity to make a donation to the Military Family Relief Assistance Program by simply checking off a box on their income tax return,” said Major General Wesley E. Craig, Pennsylvania’s adjutant general. “Since service members and their families sacrifice so much, it’s only right that we are there to lend them a hand when they need it most. This program is an easy and convenient way for us to support Pennsylvania’s warriors.”
Examples of how the grants helped service members in 2013 include:
* A service member from Susquehanna County was deployed and had five children at home. Soon after the deployment, the family vehicle broke down requiring major repairs, the washing machine broke down, water pipes froze, the family needed heating oil, and the monthly bills had fallen behind. A grant for $3,500 was awarded.
* A service member from York County had a house fire. While the house was not a complete loss, the family, which included three children, was displaced for about six months while repairs were made. A grant for $3,500 was given to assist with this unexpected burden.
* A service member from Cumberland County had a child that was killed in a domestic dispute. The applicant had to pay for the funeral costs because there was no life insurance and the funeral home was going to add interest charges if the bill was not paid by the end of the month. The service member received a $3,500 grant.
* A service member from Erie County was medically discharged and was not yet receiving benefits. The spouse had been struggling to find work, and then got hired, but would not be receiving a paycheck for a few weeks. The family struggled to meet their monthly bills but couldn’t catch up. A $3,500 grant was awarded to help the family until the spouse started receiving regular paychecks.
Since the program began in 2006, more than $1.3 million has been donated by individuals filing their Pennsylvania personal income tax returns and private donations.
“I encourage service members to take advantage of this valuable benefit. If you need assistance and think you qualify for a grant, you should apply,” Craig added.
Members of the armed forces who are residents of Pennsylvania are eligible to apply for assistance while they are serving on active duty for 30 or more consecutive days with the Army, Army Reserve, Navy, Navy Reserve, Air Force, Air Force Reserve, Marine Corps, Marine Corps Reserve, Coast Guard, Coast Guard Reserve, or the Pennsylvania Army or Air National Guard.
All members of the armed forces who were discharged for medical reasons are also eligible to apply for assistance for up to two years after a medical discharge.
In addition, reserve component service members (including Pennsylvania National Guard) and their families may be eligible for a grant for a period of up to one year after release from a qualifying tour of active duty.
The program also applies to certain family members of eligible service members who are Pennsylvania residents. Applicants must show that their need for assistance is directly related to their active military service.
In addition to the check-off box on the Personal Income Tax form, contributions can be made directly by sending a check to the Military Family Relief Assistance Program, c/o Department of Military and Veterans Affairs, Bldg. 0-47 Fort Indiantown Gap, Annville, PA 17003.
Donations are tax deductible to the extent authorized by federal law.
To learn more about this program, visit www.dmva.state.pa.us and select DMVA Offices & Programs.
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