If you are a veteran, you might be able to get financial help from the county in which you live. Each county must have a County Commission of Veterans Affairs. A county commission has three or five members, and all of them must be veterans. Each county commission provides for assistance to certain veterans and their spouses or children if they meet certain eligibility conditions. Generally, the veteran must have a low income.
Each county commission can provide a different amount of help to eligible veterans. Some counties will help with medicine, shelter/rent, food and utilities. The amount of help and how often it is provided varies among the counties. County commissions must pay the burial expenses of any veteran who dies in that county and for the care of all veterans' graves in the county. The law says these commissions can also give money to veterans. They can give money to veterans who need money for food, clothing, shelter, utilities, or medical care. They do not have to give out money for these things, but most do. Part of the county property tax paid by everyone goes to pay for this service. The county board of supervisors funds the commission on veterans affairs.
There are three requirements for getting help from your local County Commission of Veterans Affairs.
- The veteran must have been in the armed forces of the United States. The armed forces of the United States include the Army, the Navy, the Air Force, and the Marine Corps. They may also include things like the reserves, the Iowa National Guard, and the merchant marine.
- The veteran must have been in the armed forces during wartime. The local commission can tell you which periods of time the federal government considers "wartime." For example, the federal government considers you a veteran of the Vietnam War if you served in the armed forces between February 28, 1961 and May 7, 1975. The veteran only needs to have been in the service during these time periods. The veteran did not need to be in combat or overseas.
- The veteran must have an honorable discharge.
If a veteran qualifies for help from their county commission, his or her spouse and minor children also qualify. Minor children are children under the age of 18. Spouses and minor children qualify for help even if the veteran is deceased.
To apply for help from your local County Commission of Veterans Affairs, you will have to go to the commission's office and fill out an application. You should go to the office that serves the county in which you live. Any information you give the commission is confidential. If the commission decides you are not eligible for help, they should give you a written explanation of why you are not eligible. If you believe that you were improperly denied help, you can contact Iowa Legal Aid.
Iowa Legal Aid provides help to low-income Iowans.
To apply for help from Iowa Legal Aid:
- Call 800-532-1275.
- Iowans age 60 and over, call 800-992-8161.
- Apply online at iowalegalaid.org
If Iowa Legal Aid cannot help, look for an attorney on “Find A Lawyer” on the Iowa State Bar Association website iowabar.org. A private attorney there can talk with you for a fee of $25 for 30 minutes of legal advice.
As you read this information, remember this article is not a substitute for legal advice.