NOTE: One-hundred percent of donations to the Minnesota Veterans Assistance Fund go toward helping veterans in need. No donations go toward administrative costs, because administration already is handled within the Legion itself. Marketing is done either via word of mouth or outside sources. This structure will never change.
Fund 85 through the Minnesota American Legion Foundation
Read this entire page before applying
The Minnesota American Legion Foundation 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.
The MVAF falls under our Veterans Affairs and Rehabilitation (VA&R) pillar. Through MVAF, an American Legion Post can call upon the Minnesota American Legion 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 need assistance. The purpose of the grant is to maintain a stable environment for the applicant by helping them meet the costs of shelter, food, utilities, transportation, and medical expenses.
Basic Needs Maintenance
Basic Needs include 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 the place of employment.
This grant may be used to assist with healthcare expenses such as medical care, dental care, surgery, hospitalization, medications, and dietary needs. Grocery gift cards may be given to those families who are having difficulty providing nutritious, quality food for their families. 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 before the services are rendered unless it is a life-threatening emergency.
Veterans, families of deployed service members, and surviving minor children are eligible to apply for the grant.
Veteran eligibility for the MVAF grant is the same as the American Legion’s membership eligibility; a veteran must have served at least one day of active military duty since December 7, 1941, and have been honorably discharged or are still serving active military duty honorably.
Official proof of eligible active duty must accompany the application. Typically, this is a DD Form 214 however, VA Regional Office verification letters and other official government records may be considered if the dates of service and characterization of discharge are included. An American Legion membership card is not acceptable. American Legion membership is not required to be eligible.
Minor children include any biological child of an eligible Veteran that is unmarried and 17 years old or younger. Minor children may also include stepchildren, grandchildren, adopted children, and others under 17 years of age and in legal custody of an eligible Veteran. Birth Certificates and or legal custody, divorce, marriage, and name change papers provide proof of eligibility.
The applicant must be a resident of the state of Minnesota. Proof of residency includes an MN Driver’s License, state ID, or utility bill.
The MVAF application must originate and be completed by a local American Legion Post member. Local refers to the nearest post to where the veteran is living, regardless of its post-home status. The fillable MVAF application has been designed to allow any Post Service Officer or Legionnaire, regardless of previous experience with the MVAF grant, to complete and submit. The application is self-explanatory and has instructions throughout, along with detailed information on this webpage. Do not send it to your CVSO to complete. Counties don’t manage the program, the American Legion Department of MN does. All questions should go to Department.
Before completing an investigation and application, determine if the applicant is eligible to apply to the MVAF. Proof of eligibility, noted in the eligibility section, must be included with the application. Additionally, preference will be given to American Legion Members who are in good standing.
Once eligibility has been determined, an appointment should be scheduled with the applicant at their residence to complete the application if possible. Secure all requested documentation and information. The application must include a detailed description of the applicant’s financial need, steps taken to alleviate the situation, and follow-up plans of the Post investigator.
The post investigator determines if the applicant qualifies financially or not. No applicant is considered eligible to receive the MVAF grant until a complete investigation is conducted at the Post or District level, a legitimate need is determined, and all other available assistance resources have been considered. If the applicant doesn’t have a current financial need for the MVAF, explain to them that they don’t qualify.
Bills and Estimates
The MVAF pays the vendor directly. No money is distributed to the grant applicants. Bills, invoices, and estimates that qualify for the grant must be submitted along with the application. Screenshots of amounts due are not acceptable. The entire bill or quote must be included as a PDF or (scanned) paper copy. All bills and invoices must have an address and phone number for the service provider for Department to call and work with them to send payment. All bills and invoices submitted must be current. Incomplete applications will be kicked back to the post.
The investigating American Legion Post and its Legion Family, Sons of the American Legion, American Legion Auxiliary, Legion Riders, etc. should utilize their resources to help local veterans in need. Gambling funds or Post money that is set aside for veterans in need may be used to help an MVAF applicant and other local veterans. Vote to set aside funds now so that when a veteran in crisis comes to you for help, you will be prepared!
Train your club staff on what to do when veterans walk into your post asking for help. No veteran should be turned away due to a lack of training or communication. VA&R is one of our 4 pillars. Create and post a policy and phone tree for employees to help veterans in crises. At a minimum, any employee should have the phone numbers of several board members who can provide direction.
The MVAF grant is to be used as a last resort. Every attempt should be made to partner with local nonprofits and government, including the post, to help the veteran first. The veteran benefits more in the long run because the lifetime grant will go further. Communicate with your local resources and document assistance received in the Other Assistance section of the application. One of the first calls you should have the veteran make is to your CVSO to determine if the applicant qualifies for other grants first. Communicate with the CVSO as necessary.
The Post investigator should be working with local food shelves to help the veteran first. If the investigator finds that the applicant still qualifies for help with groceries, this must be noted in the application and the amount requested. Grocery cards will not be issued from Walmart, Target, or any department store. Grocery stores selling alcohol do not qualify for a grocery card. The investigator must provide a list of local or neighboring qualified grocery stores with the application. MVAF funds may be sent to the post to purchase a grocery card if requested. The post should consider using gambling or post-funds to purchase a grocery card.
There may be a need for help with gas if the applicant needs to get to work and back or drive children to school and doctor’s appointments. If the investigator finds that the applicant qualifies for help with gas, this must be noted in the application and the amount requested (up to $250). Gas-only cards (not gift cards) will be issued for gas stations in the applicant’s local or nearby area. The investigator must provide a list of local gas stations with the application. MVAF funds may be sent to the post to purchase a gas-only card if requested. The post should consider using gambling or post funds to purchase gas cards.
Clothing and Goods
The post investigator should first work with local nonprofit thrift stores and other nonprofit organizations to help with clothing and goods (diapers). If the investigator finds that the applicant still qualifies for help with clothing or goods, this must be noted in the application and the amount requested. MVAF funds will be sent to the post to purchase qualified clothing and goods if requested. The post should consider using gambling or post funds to purchase qualifying clothing items for the applicant.
An example of a local resource: The MPLS VA has a Center for Development and Civic Engagement (CDCE) that has donated clothing and hygiene items for veterans. If the applicant lives near the VA, this is an option. Reach out to the Department Service Officer so they can put in a request for items. It’s up to the Post investigator to ensure the applicant receives the items.
There are many thrift stores throughout the state that offer low-cost or free quality clothing to those in need, Family Pathways, Basic Needs Inc. of South Washington Co., Hastings Family Service, Neighbor’s Inc. Clothes Closet, St. Cloud Stand Down, etc. Find nonprofits like these online or as ask your CVSO for a list of local resources.
If the applicant needs help paying rent or mortgage, include the current bill or lease agreement clearly stating the amount due with the application. If the veteran is homeless or at risk of becoming homeless, have them call MAC-V or visit the VA’s Community Resource Referral Center (CRRC) in downtown Minneapolis to determine what they qualify for. Communicate with the representative as necessary.
Bills Not Covered
The MVAF is for basic needs maintenance and health. The following are examples of bills that do not qualify for the MVAF; reimbursement for qualifying bills, storage units or garages, previously incurred debt, credit, and debit card bills, insurance including auto, cable, and internet, car repair expenses for work already performed, vehicle purchase in spouse’s name, second, third and fourth phone lines, vehicle impound fees, car payments on a totaled car-no longer in use or the applicant’s possession, legal fees and anything not considered a basic necessity. If the veteran’s cell phone is on autopay, we ask they remain on it instead of stopping it for us to make a payment.
Some veterans find themselves in need of financial help due to poor spending habits and a lack of budgeting. There are local resources that help people learn to budget. Refer the veteran to one or hold a budgeting class with your Finance Officer for local veterans.
Ensure all sections of the application are complete and the appropriate signatures are obtained. E-signatures are acceptable and encouraged; simply type in the signature block. Incomplete applications may result in delays or denial and will be returned to the investigator. The investigator is the point of contact for the applicant, no matter who referred them to the post.
Submit the application and supporting documents through the Unite Us platform. If your post is not yet signed up on the platform, email the Department Service Officers at DSO@mnlegion.org. They will assist in setup and training.
If the application is deemed incomplete, a communication will be sent to the investigating Post through Unite Us that details exactly what additional information is needed so the Post investigator can take immediate action.
Once the application has been successfully submitted, don’t refer the applicant to Minnesota Department Headquarters to inquire about the status of their application. No information is released to applicants. Instead, the Post investigator should check with Minnesota Department Headquarters. While we do our best to process applications speedily within 24 hours, this is not always a fast process, and the applicant must be patient.
MVAF recipients may not reapply for 30 days from the last payment issue date. The MVAF offers a lifetime maximum amount of $5000.00. Previous recipients who have not used the entire lifetime grant amount, require a new investigation and application to include current statements and expenses.
- Do fill out the application electronically and submit it through the Unite Us application. Every post should be signed up on Unite Us.
- Do fill out the entire application. N/A or incomplete sections will most likely result in denial, a delay, or a return of the application.
- Do work with your local nonprofit community and government partners to get all help available for the veteran before applying.
- Do completely document all other resources that have been explored.
- Do attach all required documentation requested in the application.
- Do submit current bills, invoices, estimates, and gas and grocery card requests. Without them, we are unable to help the veteran.
- Do submit completed applications promptly.
- Do submit the requested additional information as soon as possible for consideration.
- Don’t expect payment for a bill, quote, or invoice that was not submitted with the application. Payment will not be authorized without accompanying documentation.
- Don’t expect approval for applications that do not demonstrate that the veteran is eligible for American Legion membership.
- Don’t be afraid to tell an applicant that they do not qualify if their finances don’t support a need.
- Don’t refer the applicant to the Minnesota Department Headquarters to inquire about the status of their application. No information is released to applicants. No exceptions. Instead, the Post investigator should check with the Minnesota Department Headquarters.
- Don’t promise the applicant or creditors ANYTHING. The Department Adjutant is the final authority.