Senate Approves Baker Bill to Help More
7, 2013- Hanson Quickel
Senate unanimously approved a bill sponsored by state Senator Lisa Baker (R-20)
to help a greater number of military families who have fallen on hard times.
will expand the eligibility guidelines for grants from the state’s Military
Family Relief Assistance Program (MFRAP) to include more service members and
their families in need, according to Baker, who has served as chair of the
Senate Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee since 2006.
our active-duty military are coming home from combat to face new battles at
home, ranging from unemployment and mortgage foreclosure, to terminally ill
children, post-traumatic stress disorder, homelessness, flooding, and other
unexpected tragedies. This bill will
provide emergency funding to soldiers who have laid their lives on the line but
who are now struggling to obtain the necessities of life themselves.”
was created in 2005 as part of the “Support our Soldiers” initiative,
recognizing that military service sometimes leads to an unexpected financial
burden for military families, ranging from child care costs to travel, medical
and funeral costs.
program is funded through a voluntary check-off on the Pennsylvania Personal
Income Tax refund. Grants are awarded in
amounts up to $3,500 for service members and their families experiencing sudden
financial hardship. To provide
additional flexibility, the bill will allow service members to receive aid for
any pressing financial need beyond their control, not just those needs directly
resulting from military service.
Bill 923 also extends the time limit during which service members can apply,
from one year to three years after release from active duty for reservists and
for former members of the armed forces, its reserve, or Guard. It extends the
time limit from two years to four years if the member was injured in the line
of duty and received a medical discharge.
current MFRAP program guidelines are so narrowly drawn that many members in
need are finding themselves walking away empty-handed,” Baker said. “We can’t let that happen, especially when
money is there to help and our soldiers were there for us.”
grants approved in 2012 totaled nearly $115,000.
to the generosity of so many patriotic Pennsylvanians, the MFRAP program has a
healthy fund balance of more than $1 million. We are fortunate to be able to expand the fund’s recipients without
compromising the long-term stability of the fund,” Baker said.