Pa. counties receive more than $1 million in Veterans’ Trust Fund awards

Berks, Cumberland, Dauphin, Lancaster, and York are among the 14 Pennsylvania county veterans’ affairs offices and 34 charitable or veteran service organizations receiving grants from the Veterans’ Trust Fund (VTF), announced Tuesday by Gov. Tom Wolf. 

The VTF is administered by the Pennsylvania Department of Military and Veterans Affairs (DMVA).  It is funded by voluntary $5 donations from Pennsylvanians applying for or renewing their driver’s license, photo ID, or a motor vehicle registration. The VTF also receives proceeds from private donations and the sale of Honoring Our Veterans and Honoring our Women Veterans license plates. 

Wolf said in a statement that the fund helps fill gaps in services to veterans that would otherwise go unfilled. 

“The county offices and civic organizations who receive these grants do incredible work supporting our veterans,” said Wolf. “They truly improve the lives of veterans, providing them with life-enhancing programs and services. Pennsylvania owes a debt of gratitude to everyone who contributes to this program, either as a donor or hard-working recipient.” 

A total of $1.35 million in grants was awarded, with $200,000 to county veterans affairs offices and $1.15 million to charitable or veteran service organizations. Grantees slated to receive funding identified more than $1 million in matching funds pledged toward grant-funded initiatives. Combined with the VTF grants, this will result in more than $2.4 million for veterans’ initiatives during the next two years. 

“As Pennsylvania’s biggest veteran advocate, the DMVA connects veterans to benefits that meet their daily needs,” said Maj. Gen. Mark Schindler, Pennsylvania’s adjutant general and head of the DMVA. “Our goal is to reach every veteran in the commonwealth. The best way in obtaining that goal is by collaborating with other organizations to conduct our outreach campaign. 

“It is through this collaboration and these grants that veterans receive the help they need and earned by serving our nation. I would like to personally thanks all those that donate to ensure our veterans get the best we can give them.” 

Up to a total of $200,000 in grant funding was available for new, innovative, or expanded programs or services provided by county directors of veterans’ affairs or the Pennsylvania Association of County Directors of Veterans Affairs. The three areas of emphasis for grantees in this category were veterans’ outreach, veterans’ courts, and training and capacity building. The Berks County Office of Veterans Affairs received $20,000 to implement a county veterans temporary assistance grant program. 

The VTF grant also identified $1.15 million in funding available to veteran service organizations with 501(c)(19) status and non-profit, 501(c)(3), charitable organizations with a mission of serving Pennsylvania veterans. Funding priorities for grants in this category were veterans’ employment and education, behavioral health initiatives, or other programs addressing newly identified, unmet or emerging needs of veterans and their families. 

Central Pennsylvania grantees, their specific award amounts, and their programs supported are as follows: 

  • Building Bridges Foundation at Anderson Farm, Conestoga (Lancaster County): $35,000 to provide interactive equine therapy to veterans 
  • Central Pennsylvania Food Bank, Harrisburg (Dauphin County): $50,000 to support the MilitaryShare program 
  • JFT Recovery and Veterans Support Services, Lemoyne (Cumberland County): $50,000 to assist veterans with vocational, educational and job services 
  • Pennsylvania Wounded Warriors, Camp Hill (Cumberland County): $45,000 to provide financial assistance to veterans 
  • rabbitCARES, York (York County): $49,900 for transportation services to veterans 
  • Rodale Institute, Kutztown (Berks County): $50,000 to support the veteran farming training program 
  • Writeface, Conestoga (Lancaster County): $34,080 to provide therapeutic services to veterans.