Post Resources

The American Legion Department of Minnesota Foundation Veterans Assistance Fund (VAF)

(Application is at the bottom. Read this page before applying.)

The American Legion Department of Minnesota is committed to the health and welfare of our Minnesota Veterans and their families. Out of the desire to serve, the Minnesota American Legion Foundation established this program as a form of direct aid to Veterans, deployed service members families and surviving children to help sustain a quality of life so deserved.

Through VAF, a Post can call upon the Department of Minnesota Foundation for cash assistance to help maintain the basic needs of a Veteran, Deployed Serviceman’s family, or to assist surviving minor children, (applicant), of eligible Veterans.  Non-repayable grants are awarded to eligible applicants over a temporary period when it is determined that they are in need of assistance. The purpose of the grant awarded is to maintain a stable environment for the applicant by helping the applicant meet the costs of shelter, food, utilities, transportation, and medical expenses.

Grant Types:

There are two types of grants, Maintenance and Health grants.

Maintenance: This grant may be used to assist with the basic need expenses such as; shelter, utilities, and transportation. Maintenance grants cannot be used for previously incurred debt, except to prevent disconnection of utilities, eviction or foreclosure and the inability to get to their place of employment.

Health: This grant maybe used to assist with healthcare expenses such as; medical care, dental care, surgery, hospitalization, medications, and dietary needs. Grocery gift cards maybe given to those families who are having difficulty to provide nutritious, quality food for their family.  Clothing expense is to ensure the applicant has adequate clothing to protect them during Minnesota’s fall, winter and spring seasons. Grants for medical issues will require a written statement from a physician outlining the problem, treatment, and estimated costs. Medical treatment must be approved in advance before the services are rendered unless it was a life-threatening emergency.

Application Process:

All VAF applications originate at The American Legion Post or District levels. A local investigator personally visits with the applicant to determine the need of the applicant. A completed application with supporting documents, proof of military service, written statements, copies of estimates, and billing statements is forwarded to the Department of Minnesota Adjutant for review of completed documents. The Department Adjutant will assign a case number and forward the packet to the Veterans Affairs & Rehabilitation Benefits Coordinator (VA&RBC) or Department Service Officer (DSO) for their review and approval to award the grant. The amount of grant will be determined by the Department Adjutant and VA&RBC or DSO. The check will be made out to two parties, example, John Smith and Excel Energy. In the event gift cards are appropriate the check will be made out to the Post or District completing the investigation to purchase the needed gift cards from the local business in which the Post or applicant resides. The application packet, approved or disapproved will be maintained on file at the Department of Minnesota Headquarters office. The Post or District presenting the check will contact the local media, the editor of the Legionnaire to publicize The American Legion Department of Minnesota Posts or Districts are helping Veterans, their families, and their children.

Eligibility:

To be eligible for VAF assistance is limited to Veterans, families of deployed serviceman, and surviving minor children. A Veteran must have served at least one day of active duty in the Armed Forces of the United States during the period of 7 December 1941 to present date or the Cessation of hostilities as determined by the United States Congress. No applicant is considered eligible for VAF until a complete investigation is conducted at the Post or District levels, a legitimate applicant need is determined, and all other available assistance resources have been considered. Additionally, the VAF application must originate and be filled out by someone at the local level. Preference will be given to American Legion Members who are in good standing.

Minor Children Defined:

Minor children include any biological child of an eligible Veteran that is unmarried and 17 years old or younger. Minor children may also include step-children, grandchildren, adopted children and others that are 17 years old or younger and in legal custody of an eligible Veteran. No child is considered eligible for VAF until a complete investigation is conducted, a legitimate family need is determined, and all other available resources have been utilized or exhausted.

Grant:

The amount of the grant will be determined on the needs of the applicant. The maximum amount of a grant is $5000.00 and is one grant per Applicant. Grants cannot be awarded to an applicant who has already received the maximum amount of the $5000.00 grant.

VAF Application and Procedures:

The VAF application has been designed to allow any Legionnaire, regardless of previous experience with the VAF program, to successfully complete and submit a VAF application. A complete set of instructions are located on page 4 of the application.

Prior to completing an investigation and application, determine if the applicant is eligible for VAF. The minor child must not be older than 17 and be in legal custody of an eligible veteran. An eligible veteran has served honorably and at least one day of active duty during the eligibility period. Active duty must be Federal active duty (Title 10). Official proof of eligible active duty must accompany the application. Typically, this will be a DD 214 however, VA Regional Office verification letters and other official government records may be considered if the dates of service and characterization of discharge is included. An American Legion membership card is not acceptable.

If the veteran does not have active service within these dates, the applicant will not be eligible. There are no exceptions.

Once you have determined that the applicant is eligible, make an appointment with the applicant at their residence to complete the application if possible. Secure all requested documentation and submit all requested information. Your report must include a detailed description of the applicant’s financial need, steps taken to alleviate the situation, and follow-up plans of the Post, District and/or investigator.

VAF is strictly for the basic needs of Veterans, families of deployed serviceman, and surviving children, including shelter, utilities, transportation, food, clothing, and medical. Health grants must be approved prior to treatment and must be accompanied by a physician’s statement and estimated costs.

VAF will not pay for: Cable, Consumer Debt, Internet Services, Insurance, Taxes, Previous Debt, or any expense that does not contribute to the active basic needs of the applicant.

The following documents must accompany the VAF application:

DD214, VA statement of service, military orders, or other official proof of active –      duty discharge type

Birth certificates of children

Marriage license

Custody documentation, divorce decrees and legal name changes

All current statements, bills, leases, foreclosures, eviction notices, disconnection notices to be considered.

Expenses not documented will not be considered.

Ensure all sections of the application are complete and the appropriate signatures are obtained. Incomplete applications may result in delays or denial and will be returned to the investigator.

VAF recipients may not reapply until 30 days from the issue date of the last check or they have received the maximum grant amount of $5000.00.  All previous recipients require a new completed application to include current statements and expenses to be  considered.

Completed applications must be sent to your Department  Headquarters for review and then distributed to the Foundation Corporation. All communication about submitted applications should be directed to the Department  Headquarters. To protect the privacy of applicants, Department Headquarters will not release ANY information other than to the DBC or DSO.

VAF Do’s and Don’ts:

Do fax, mail or email completed applications and requested additional information to the Department of Minnesota Hq.

Do clearly print or type when completing the application. Use black or blue ink for best results.

Do completely fill out the entire application. “NI A” or incomplete sections will most likely result in denial, a delay, or return of the application.

Do completely document that all other resources that have been tried.

Do attach all required documentation requested in the application.

Do submit completed applications in a timely manner.

Do submit requested additional information as soon as possible for consideration.

Don’t expect payment for a bill that was not submitted with the application. Payment will not be authorized without accompanying documentation.

Don’t expect approval for applications that do not clearly demonstrate that the veteran is eligible for Legion membership.

Don’t include original supporting documents. Documents will not be returned.

Don’t fax bad copies of the application and/or supporting documentation. Mailing them instead will result in quicker turnaround.

Don’t refer the applicant to the Department Headquarters to inquire about the status of their application. NO information is released to applicants. No exceptions. Instead, the investigator  should check with the Department Headquarters.

Don’t promise the applicant or creditors ANYTHING. The Department Adjutant is the final authority.

Don’t be afraid to tell an applicant that they do not qualify.

Procedures for submittal and turnaround time vary; however, assistance can be      delivered in less than 24 hours for the most extreme cases. Check with your Department Adjutant for additional information.

All applications are reviewed at the Department Headquarters immediately. If the application is deemed incomplete an action form will be sent to the investigating Post or District that details exactly what additional information is needed so the investigator can take immediate action.

Click here to download the VAF Application (PDF).