Veteran Emergency Assistance Fund (VEAF)
What is the VEAF?
American Legion Post 291 started the Veteran Emergency Assistance Fund (VEAF) in the Fall of 2019 in response to cries for help from the local veteran service provider community. Local veterans looking for support told of multiple calls to many local agencies with rejection after rejection. Funds were not available or exceeded one agency’s resources or the process to qualify for a grant took weeks to approve. Requests for $40 to pay a fee to get into an apartment or $500 to fix a car or $1500 to cremate one’s mother could not be handled. The social workers trying to help the veterans were frustrated right along with their agencies which did not have the necessary resources. AL Post 291 decided to raise the money to provide immediate assistance for a veteran or veteran family in trouble.
Veterans will always help another veteran. It is in our genes to never leave a veteran behind. As the largest AL Post in Southern California and the largest veteran organization with over 4000 veteran members, many agencies would suggest that the veteran contact AL291 if nothing was available. In the past, the calls to the Post were often referred right back to the local agencies. This rejection cycle frustrated veterans and become a major complaint. AL291 decided to raise the necessary funds among its Legionnaires and now after three campaigns over 500 veterans have contributed to the VEAF to solve this problem. More than 200 veterans and veteran families have been served by the AL291 Service Officer – today Cory Vigil holds that position. Over $10,000 is awarded to 10 to 15 individuals or families each month often with a check cut to a vendor, motel or landlord within hours of receiving an application.
The VEAF has given homeless veterans a motel room, helped families find a safe place to live until the VA can process their housing claims, fixed cars, replaced cars, provided transportation to appointments, flew veterans to funerals back East, provided moving expenses, paid accident claims, medical deductibles, dentist bills and many other unexpected costs that a veteran or veteran family might encounter.
Veterans from anywhere in Orange County are eligible. AL291 considers helping a veteran an investment – not a gift. When the Post is approached, we ask that an application be filled out to allow us to verify military service, understand what is needed and review our response options thoroughly. When asked for help, we become a coach and sometimes the advice is hard to take. We will share costs with another agency if necessary to make sure that the veteran is helped and not turned away. We work closely with the entire veteran provider community.
Donations to the VEAF are maintained in a separate restricted account and are only used to provide financial assistance to qualified veterans or military families. Your support is greatly appreciated by the veterans whom we serve.
To see 2020 VEAF campaign results click here.