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Travel funds currently not available

Every year at this time our Veterans Trust Fund Grant travel money seems to fall in a “black hole” and doesn’t resurface until about August or sometimes later.

So, at this writing, there is no travel money available and won’t be until probably late August.

The reason this phenomenon happens is because the State of Colorado is on a fiscal year from July 1 through June 30. So VTF grants are finalized and contracts drawn up after July 1. The previous year’s grant (7-2010 to 6-2011 in this case) must be closed out and all final reports submitted by late June. All funds and expenditures must be fully accrued and come to a zero balance.

The reality is it takes about 60 days or more to sign new Grant agreements between the State and the Pagosa Spring American Legion Post 108 (Grantee), request fund advancement and wail until a check is received, all by the U.S. “snail” mail. Meanwhile there is no travel money available.

The sad part of this system is the state will not allow any retro travel payments to be made prior to the date of the signing of the new VTF grant agreements. At best that will take place about July. Then we have to request advance funds because our small American Legion organization does not have the financial resources to spend the money first and then ask for a reimbursement. So we have to ask for “advanced” funds and then pay them back through the expenditure report each month.

If this sounds complicated, your right! But the bottom line is that we do end up with travel money for our veterans to the VA Health Care appointments and emergency situation. In the distant past, there was no such thing as travel money. If you couldn’t get it from the VA, you had to pay your own way to your medical appointments.

This year we are very fortunate to have been awarded $50,000 by the Colorado VTF to include the purchase of a new four-wheel drive transportation vehicle to replace our aging vehicle, provide transportation money, and in some cases emergency assistance to needy local veterans. We had applied for $60,000. The grant administrator said they received about $1,800,000 in requests for financial assistance from all the Colorado counties, but only had about $800,000 to distribute to applicants.

Further information

For information on these and other veterans benefits, please call or stop by the Archuleta County Veterans Service Office located at the Senior Center in the Pagosa Springs Community Center on Hot Springs Boulevard. The office number is 264-4013, the fax number is 264-4014, cell number is 946-6648, and e-mail is afautheree@archuletacounty.org. The office is open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday. Bring your DD Form 214 (Discharge) for application for VA programs, and for filing in the VSO office

Durango VA Clinic

The Durango VA Outpatient Clinic is located at 1970 E. 3rd Ave. Durango, Colorado 81301 (Old Mercy Medical Center). Phone number is 247-2214.

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