State House votes to include service members in emergency relief funds

Hartford -- The state House of Representatives voted 143 in favor and 8 absent today on a bill that enables military service men and women to access the Military Family Relief Fund.

The fund has previously been available for emergency help to immediate families of service members living in Connecticut, including members of the National Guard and Reserves who have been mobilized. The fund, which currently has more than $800,000 in it, is for use in times of hardship.

Currently "only family members who suffered hardship due to military service are eligible for the benefit," said Rep. Jack Hennessy, D-Bridgeport. "This extends to service members, themselves, and caps (the benefit) at $5,000." The service member also has to reside in the state of Connecticut, he said.

State Rep. Frank Nicastro, D-Bristol, urged others to support the bill. "I have talked to several family members who used this in the past and it has been very helpful. With women and men coming home it will work better."

Under the current program the fund provides grants to help immediate family members of Connecticut armed forces members pay for household goods or services. The payment for goods and services must be considered a hardship for the family due to the service member's military service, according to the current law. The cap for any grant is $5,000.
The bill will next move to the floor of the Senate to be voted on.

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