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Lawmakers Discuss Possible Changes To Military Family Relief Fund

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Indiana lawmakers are exploring changes to the way money is dispersed from the state’s Military Family Relief Fund.

Debate in a study committee hearing Monday centered, in part, on whether some veterans can be “trusted” with the money.

The Military Family Relief Fund helps combat veterans and their immediate families who are struggling financially. The fund subsidizes food, housing, utility, transportation and medical bills.

Some veterans organizations, including AMVETS and Disabled American Veteran, want payments from the fund to go directly to vendors, such as landlords and utility companies, instead of the veterans themselves.

Retired general Jim Bauerle used to lead the state’s Veterans Affairs Commission. He says some vets don’t have bank accounts, which means money from the fund goes to them essentially as cash.

“And they do have the opportunity to abuse this and there have been abuses. I hate to say that about my fellow veterans but I know that that’s the case," said Bauerle

But Richard Jewell,  current Veterans Affairs Commission chairman says he trusts veterans to handle the money on their own.

“The feeling of empowerment has, then, that they can go pay their bills…whoever they owe doesn’t really need to know where the money came from,” said Jewell.

A legislative study committee will decide next month whether to recommend any changes to the program. 

Brandon Smith is excited to be working for public radio in Indiana. He has previously worked in public radio as a reporter and anchor in mid-Missouri for KBIA Radio out of Columbia. Prior to that, he worked for WSPY Radio in Plano, Illinois as a show host, reporter, producer and anchor. His first job in radio was in another state capitol, in Jefferson City, Missouri, as a reporter for three radio stations around Missouri. Brandon graduated from the University of Missouri-Columbia with a Bachelor of Journalism in 2010, with minors in political science and history. He was born and raised in Chicago.
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