Veterans and surviving spouses who have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic are now able to access a pair of state programs created to provide them with financial assistance.

“Our veterans take care of us and it’s our responsibility to take care of them when times are tough,” said District 16A Rep. Chris Swedzinski of Ghent. “Everyone has their own set of circumstances, and veterans, too, are being hurt by the COVID-19 outbreak. I hope they take a look at what is available and take advantage of these programs that are being offered.”

On March 26, the Minnesota legislature created two new programs to assist veterans who may be financially impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

COVID-19 specific programs have been activated specifically in response to mitigate the economic effects COVID-19 is having on our veterans and their families.

According to the Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs (MDVA), these programs can close at any time without notice if funding for the program is exhausted.

Status updates will be available on the MDVA Web site regarding the status of these programs. All of the grants are awarded on a first come, first served basis, and the amount of grants awarded is limited to the length of existing funding.

The legislature also approved COVID-19 disaster relief grants, which are designed to mitigate the negative effects and economic impact COVID-19 has had on veterans and their families by providing a one-time financial relief grant in the amount of $1,000.

Applications for the disaster relief grant must be dated no earlier than March 13, 2020. A closing date for the disaster relief grant has yet to be determined and will depend on the length of the peacetime emergency declared by the Governor of the State of Minnesota and the availability of funding.

To qualify for the COVID-19 special needs grant, applicants must be:

• A veteran or the surviving spouse (who has not remarried) of a deceased veteran as defined by Minnesota Statute 197.447

• A Minnesota resident

• Negatively financially impacted by COVID-19

Note: Two veterans married to each other are both authorized to apply for and receive the disaster relief grant.

Full information can be found on the Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs website at mn.gov/mdva/.