Friday, March 30, 2007

No funds for military families after 2 years

Two years ago, Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco signed off on a special taxpayer-funded assistance program for military families, but not a single dollar has been disbursed, according to the Independent Weekly of Lafayette, La.

The law gives oversight of the program – the Louisiana Military Family Assistance Fund – to the Department of Social Services, but the agency has not given out any money and missed its Jan. 1 deadline to file a report to the Joint Legislative Committee on the Budget.

The DSS still cannot point to any benchmarks or timeline for the program, the Independent Weekly reported.

The program is designed to award need-based grants to families of Louisiana National Guard and reserve forces called to active duty since 9/11 and to guard units that deployed for natural disasters such as hurricanes.

The funds come from private sources and taxpayers who opt to designate all or part of their returns to the program, which provides emergency cash to families who have lost a source of income due to military service.

Allotments may be as small as money for rent, and larger amounts are available for casualty cases. A lump sum of $2,500 is to be offered to the families of soldiers missing or killed in action or taken prisoner.

More than 11,800 men and women are eligible for the program along with their estimated 12,000 dependents.


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