INDIANAPOLIS — Eligible Hoosier veteran families can receive up to $500 per dependent for back-to-school supplies and other school-related expenses and needs.
The Indiana Department of Veterans Affairs (IDVA) is hosting the Operation Back to School program. The program is part of the Military Family Relief Fund (MFRF), which helps veterans in financial need.
"At this time especially, [veterans in need] make some choices to pay for school supplies versus paying for rent, or paying for for air conditioning, and that kind of stuff," Dennis Wimer, IDVA director, said. "We see that all year long, where veterans and the families make those kinds of decisions that many of us don't have to make."
Indiana veteran families may apply for eligible dependents attending kindergarten to 12th grade (up to 18 years of age) and full-time college students (up to 23 years of age) that live in the veteran’s home.
This is the first year for Operation Back to School. Wimer says so far, about 75% of applicants have never engaged with MFRF before.
"We wanted to put together this program ... to help those families pay for their kids essential household needs, which includes school supplies," Wimer said. "To hear and see some of the responses from the people we've given money to ... they've been so thankful for this. It hits a need at this time that is so critical."
The average turnaround time from when an eligible family applies to when it is approved is around 10 days.
Since applications opened on July 5, about 250 families have applied. In all of the last year, the MFRF received about 1,000 applications.
To qualify, families must make less than 2x below the federal poverty level. Wimer provided the following chart to help families determine if they're eligible.
Applicants must provide the following documentation:
• Direct Deposit form
• Proof of income
• Bank Statement
• Proof of child’s residency
MFRF’s Operation Back to School may only be used to provide services to veteran families experiencing financial hardship who reside in the state of Indiana, have served in any branch of the U.S. Armed Forces and hold a discharge in the form of a DD-214 or National Guard Bureau (NGB) Form 22.
Wimer encourages anyone with questions about Operation Back to School to reach out.
For more information about Operation Back to School and to apply, click here.