The American Legion is extending a helping hand in communities where deadly tornados and floods have struck over the last week, and winter storms are forecast to wreak havoc in days ahead.
Qualified American Legion family members may receive up to $3,000 in National Emergency Fund (NEF) grants, and qualified children of Legion-eligible veterans may receive up to $2,500 through Temporary Financial Assistance (TFA) relief to help weather the storms.
“These are supplements to help those devastated by a declared disaster,” said Jack Querfeld, American Legion Internal Affairs Division director. “They are to help bridge gaps after the storm, and they are just some of the many programs we have to help people through difficult times.”
The NEF is the Legion’s immediate financial assistance program for American Legion family members and posts affected by natural disasters. It covers expenses such as temporary housing, food, water, clothing and other daily household items. Affected Legion posts may also receive up to $10,000 through NEF grants.
“This is money given to them to cover out-of-pocket expenses,” said David Elmore, Internal Affairs assistant director. “It’s not like a low-interest loan. They don’t pay it back.”
In order to qualify for an NEF grant, an applicant must have been displaced from his or her primary residence due to a declared natural disaster and must be an active member of The American Legion at the time of the disaster. NEF recipients must provide copies of receipts of items required to meet immediate needs.
When National Commander Dale Barnett took office at The American Legion National Convention in Baltimore, he said the NEF was his primary fundraising campaign and that he hoped to raise $1 million to keep the fund viable as it continues to provide relief for victims around the nation.
“The American Legion – since 1919 – is veterans helping veterans,” Barnett said. “It’s so important, no matter what your donation is – $5, $10, or more – you are helping veterans in need. That’s what we do in The American Legion.”
To donate to the NEF, click here.
All contributions made to the NEF are used exclusively to meet urgent needs of Legion family members. “Every dollar donated is a dollar returned to a veteran in need,” Querfeld said.
While the NEF provides immediate assistance to Legion family members, TFA grants are available to children of Legion eligible veterans. Legion membership is not required to receive these grants.
“This is all for the children – to help provide a stable environment to them,” said Kimberly Mezger, American Legion Americanism Division assistant director.
Not just for natural disasters, TFA grants can provide a lifeline to veteran families in need during times like these as they help meet the costs of shelter, food, utilities and health expenses, Mezger said.
“We work with a lot of people who’ve been out of a job, have exhausted community resources and are at the end of their rope,” she said. “During disasters where a family has lost a home or it’s been severely damaged, TFA could be used to help cover mortgage costs while that family pays for temporary housing.”
To apply for an NEF grant, qualified applicants may download an application online here or contact their local Legion post. Those wishing to apply for a TFA grant must contact their local Legion post.
More than $8.5 million has been provided to Legion family members and posts through the NEF since its inception, and more than $800,000 has been provided to children through TFA grants this year alone.