Since its establishment in 1925, The American Legion Temporary Financial Assistance program has awarded cash grants to minor children of veterans eligible for American Legion membership. These grants are used toward providing basic needs for children, such as shelter, utilities, food, clothing and medical. Since 9/11, $5 million has been distributed to families in need.
However, TFA applications are oftentimes submitted incomplete to The American Legion National Headquarters, causing a delay in the funding process or even denial. Therefore, during the Legion's recent fifth annual Children & Youth Conference in Indianapolis, a number of items to remember when filling out the application were mentioned to avoid any conflicts.
- The application should be filled out by a case investigator, which is anyone at the post level. After completion, appropriate signatures must be obtained from the case investigator, applicant and either the department service, adjutant or children & youth chairperson. If any of these signatures are bypassed, the application will be sent back marked "incomplete," causing further delay in funding.
- To be eligible for the grant, the child(ren) must be 17 years or younger, or under the age of 20 and still enrolled in approved high school courses, unmarried and living at home full time. Also, the child(ren) must be the biological or in legal custody of a veteran who is, or would have been, eligible to become a member of The American Legion. However, membership is not required to apply for the grant.
- Don't leave blank or overlook any questions on the application - the applicant's story must be explained in full detail or the grant could be denied due to lack of important information.
- Under "financial information" on the form, list entire amount of family household income. A commonly left-off item is financial earnings from a live-in boyfriend or girlfriend. As far as the Legion is concerned, they too are contributing to household bills.
- Do not put "NA" when filling out questions under "other assistance." Make sure the applicant has exhausted all military and non-military resources available to them (i.e., food stamps) because the TFA grant is just that - temporary. If the applicant has not made contact with other resources, that could have bearing whether or not he or she is granted TFA.
- When requesting for a bill to be paid, the applicant must submit the most current bill and all creditor information must be filled out.
- Every case gets reviewed immediately. If approved, a check can be mailed as quickly as two days and if not approved, a letter is faxed back to the department stating "incomplete" or "denied" with an explanation why. In either case, the applicant should be contacted for an explanation to the missing details needed for approval.
- TFA applications should not be available for download on any department's website. If it is, applicants have the ability to fill out and submit the application, bypassing all proper channels needed for a grant to be approved.