The executive director of the Iowa Department of Veterans Affairs says a new Iowa Lottery scratch ticket that sends proceeds to the Iowa Veterans Trust Fund is coming at a good time.
Patrick Palmershiem says the need for help has magnified recently. Palmershiem says since the flooding hit Iowa in June, the requests for help from veterans have increased dramatically. "Right now we’re just overwhelmed with applications," Palmershiem says. The administrator of the trust fund under Palmershiem says they have tow or three calls each week from veterans seeking assistance.
Palmershiem says the rules right now allow them to provide funding to qualified veterans for many things, from unemployment assistance to vision and dental benefits. Palmershiem says they also reimburse honor guards at the funerals of veterans 50-dollars, and he says right now they’re getting about 500 funerals a month for veterans. Palmershiem says the 50-dollars reimburses the honor guards for travel, uniforms and shells for the gun salutes.
The Veterans Trust Fund began in 2003 with the goal of building the fund to 50-million dollars. Palmershiem says they have a ways to go to reach that goal. He says they have five-million dollars in the fund right now, after starting out with one million. Palmershiem says they are only spending the interest generated by the fund to pay for the veterans needs. He says the lottery ticket sales should provide a steady annual input to the trust fund, along with some other funding.
Palmershiem says last year they earned about $50,000 from the tax checkoff, so they have around $300,000 to spend. He says the interest comes in every month from the five-million dollars, and there will be more checkoff dollars from this year’s state tax returns.
Palmershiem says the money is paid to veterans based on their income level, and many veterans found themselves eligible for assistance after getting hit by the flooding. Sales of a pull-tab ticket will begin next week to also benefit the trust fund, and Iowa Lottery Officials say sales of both tickets should generate two to three million dollars each year.