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Low-income and laid-off veterans struggle to access state benefits created for them

With job losses mounting during the pandemic, thousands of Massachusetts veterans are turning to a $72 million state program that is intended to provide them with emergency cash assistance for basic needs such as housing, food, fuel, and medical care.

But as more disabled and low-income veterans look to the state Department of Veterans’ Services for help accessing the program, they have been stymied by a lack of information on the agency’s website, leaving them unsure where else to turn, advocates for veterans said.

At a time when many veterans need urgent help to survive financially, the state’s failure to publicize the benefits set aside on their behalf is exasperating, advocates said.

“This is unacceptable,” said Patricia Baker, senior policy analyst for the Massachusetts Law Reform Institute, a nonprofit organization. “I don’t see any reason why they couldn’t have a central location where veterans could see information on this benefit.”…

Veterans Legal Services, another nonprofit advocacy organization, “is hearing from veterans who can’t reach their local veterans service officer, or were told they don’t have enough paperwork to qualify, even though there may currently be no way for them to get it,” said Anna Richardson, co-executive director and chief counsel of the Boston-based group.

“These are veterans and families who are visiting food banks in record numbers who are worried about paying their rent, child support, and medical bills,” she added…. Reads more in the Boston Globe.