The Ottumwa Courier

Local News

March 27, 2012

Veterans line up for help with utilities

OTTUMWA — When Wapello County Veterans Affairs Director Dan Hoy sees a long line of veterans at his door, he knows that veterans need help with utility bills.

That’s what occurred recently.

“Seventy percent of them were seeking direct aid, such as help with utilities,” Hoy said Monday.

Other needs might include more time-consuming things such as claims for compensation for a pension for Veterans Administration health care.

“Seventy percent is a high number, but it’s typical this time of year,” he said. “SIEDA assistance runs out, and they’re trying to find a way to pay bills.”

If the veteran qualifies and hasn’t already used up benefits through Wapello County, Hoy can probably help the veteran.

But, Hoy said he can’t help with mortgage payments, property tax payments or vehicle repairs. The main things he can help with are the utilities — gas, water and lights.

“If someone has four cell phones or a TV with 800 channels, the veteran will have to cancel that stuff before we help them,” Hoy said.

The other 30 percent of veterans may need the more time-consuming procedures such as claims for compensation, a pension or Veterans Affairs health care. Hoy said he recently met a World War II veteran who was just now filing for benefits.

A real upswing has occurred with the pension applications for going into assisted living and nursing homes, according to Hoy.

“We want people to be aware Wapello County Veterans Affairs could be some help with that,” he added.

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