HARRISBURG, Pa., Jan. 30, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Individuals filing their 2014 Pennsylvania personal income taxes can help Pennsylvania's military personnel and their families by donating part or all of their refund to the Commonwealth's Military Family Relief Assistance Program.
"Members of the military put their lives on the line for us and their families sacrifice every single day," Governor Tom Wolf said. "The Military Family Relief Assistance Program gives every Pennsylvania the chance to give back to those who give everything to protect us and keep us safe. I urge all Pennsylvanians to consider supporting this program."
The program provides grants of up to $3,500 to Pennsylvania members of the armed forces and their families who have a direct and immediate financial need as a result of circumstances beyond their control. The tax form includes instructions on how to donate.
"Pennsylvanians have a very special opportunity to make a donation to the Military Family Relief Assistance Program by simply checking off a box when completing their income tax return," said Maj. Gen. James R. Joseph, acting adjutant general for the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs. "Since service members and their families sacrifice so much, it's gratifying to be able to lend them a hand when they need it most. This program is an easy and convenient way for the citizens of Pennsylvania to support their service members."
Examples of how the grants helped service members in 2014 include:
- A service member from Allegheny County was medically retired with a spouse and two children. The applicant's father passed away and the applicant could not afford to fly or drive to the funeral services, which were more than 1,900 miles away. Assistance was requested for travel expenses for the family to attend the funeral services and assist the applicant's mother during their difficult time. The service member received a $2,200 grant.
- A service member from Clearfield County returned home from a deployment to find out that his spouse wanted to end the marriage, had emptied their bank account and refused to allow the applicant to return to the home. The applicant needed assistance to find an apartment and for the security deposit and first month's rent as well as to purchase some necessities to establish a new place to live. The service member received a $3,500 grant.
- A service member from Montgomery County returned from deployment but was unable to return to work due to the federal government shutdown. The applicant's spouse was injured during the same time frame and could not work until their physical therapy ended. The applicant was unable to pay all of the household bills while on unemployment benefits and the family fell behind on their mortgage, utility and vehicle payments. The service member received a $3,500 grant.
- A service member from Pike County was medically discharged with severe health problems and has a poor prognosis. Due to this severe illness the family suffered a major financial setback and the family's vehicle also needed major repairs immediately in order to travel to the applicant's medical appointments. The applicant has a spouse and four children to provide for. The service member received a $3,500 grant.
Since the program began in 2006, more than $1.5 million has been donated by individuals filing their Pennsylvania personal income tax returns and through private donations.
"I encourage service members to take advantage of this valuable benefit and I ask others to help us spread the word. If you need assistance and think you qualify for a grant, you really should apply," Joseph added.
Members of the armed forces who are residents of Pennsylvania are eligible to apply for assistance while they are serving on active duty for 30 or more consecutive days with the Army, Army Reserve, Navy, Navy Reserve, Air Force, Air Force Reserve, Marine Corps, Marine Corps Reserve, Coast Guard, Coast Guard Reserve, or the Pennsylvania Army or Air National Guard.
All members of the armed forces who were discharged for medical reasons are also eligible to apply for assistance for up to four years after a medical discharge.
In addition, reserve component service members (including Pennsylvania National Guard members) and their families may be eligible for a grant for a period of up to three years after release from a qualifying active duty tour.
The program also applies to certain family members of eligible service members who are Pennsylvania residents. Applicants must show that they have a direct and immediate financial need as a result of circumstances beyond their control.
In addition to the check-off box on the Personal Income Tax form, contributions can be made directly by sending a check to the Military Family Relief Assistance Program, c/o Department of Military and Veterans Affairs, Bldg. 0-47 Fort Indiantown Gap, Annville, PA 17003.
Donations are tax deductible to the extent authorized by federal law.
To learn more about this program, visit www.dmva.state.pa.us and select DMVA Offices & Programs.
Media contact: Joan Z. Nissley, 717-861-8720
SOURCE Pennsylvania Department of Military and Veterans Affairs