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Iowa State Veterans Trust out of funds for the fiscal year

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The Iowa State Veterans Trust Fund provides financial assistance for things like medical and dental care and home repairs.

The fund that can provide veterans with financial help has run out of money for the fiscal year. The Iowa State Veterans Trust Fund provides emergency assistance for things like medical care and equipment, emergency repairs for homes and vehicles and counseling.

Karl Lettow, public information director for the Iowa Department of Veterans Affairs, said it’s the first time the veterans trust fund has run out of money. That’s because in January 2021, the Iowa Commission of Veterans Affairs increased who could qualify in response to rising costs.

"These changes adapted the program to increase eligibility to funds for veterans and military families. The increased need subsequently created an unprecedented influx of application requests for assistance," he said. "Bottom line: with rising costs, people needed more, so more applications came in."

The commission won’t accept applications for the fund until it’s replenished. Lettow said they are looking for solutions add more money to the trust fund until the new fiscal year starts in July.

The money for the trust comes from the Iowa Lottery, not taxpayer funds, Lettow said.

Lettow said the commission asked Iowa lawmakers to increase the amount available annually in the trust fund from $500,000 to $800,000, but it did not come up for a final vote. He said the group will likely pursue a similar change in the upcoming legislative session.

"This has been a great fund, it's done a lot of people a lot of good in anything we can do to kind of to keep it flowing is going to be helpful to veterans," Lettow said.

Brett McLain, Story County's veteran affairs director, said to qualify for the trust fund, a veteran's income not cannot exceed 300% of the poverty level. He said the fund can help veterans and their families with a range of needs that are covered by federal or county veteran benefits.

"This is just another tool we have on our tool bag to help a veteran with whether it be counseling, or home repair, dental, medical vision, car repair, whatever the case may be, because in the county, we don't have a lot of those," he said. "We don't have those kinds of programs. And at the federal level, they don't either. So we used the state for those kinds of things."

McLain said while it's unfortunate the fund ran out in October, it means that veterans were getting assistance.

"That's a lot of car repair and home repair, dental and all those other things that are on the on the application you can apply for. So there's gonna be a lot of veterans we can help," he said. "We've used that money to help veterans, which is what we're supposed to do with that money. We just had more veterans that needed assistance and what we had money available."

Catherine Wheeler is Iowa Public Radio's All Things Considered host and a reporter.