How Mass. veterans can receive financial help during coronavirus emergency

BOSTON (WHDH) - If you’re a veteran in need of financial help, especially during the coronavirus emergency, you might not know about a Massachusetts program for veterans and their families that can help with every day expenses, like rent and food.

It’s called Chapter 115, and Massachusetts is the only state in the country with a benefits program like it.

FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE FOR VETERANS

“Veterans have stepped up and served our country, and now is the time that we can step up and serve our veterans,” says Robert Santiago, Boston’s Commissioner of Veteran Services.

Santiago wants veterans across the state, to know they aren’t alone. He also wants veterans and their families to know about Chapter 115.

“It’s a financial assistance program. What we do is assist our veterans who are in need, in helping them pay for ordinary everyday things, put food on the table, assist them in paying rent, and also assist paying in for (certain) medical expenses,” says Santiago.

Veterans don’t have to worry about paying anything back. The program is paid for by the city or town. By law, every city and town must have a veteran services officer like Santiago.

“If you’re a veteran in any city or town, and you need assistance, please reach out to your veteran services officer,” says Santiago.

But many veterans don’t know about the program. Out of 17,000 veterans in Boston, only 350 are receiving help.

HOW TO SIGN UP

If you are a veteran living in Boston, who needs financial help, you can email veterans@boston.gov – or call 617-241-8387. If you live outside of Boston, you can find your veteran services officer here.

Because of the coronavirus pandemic, Santiago says some of the requirements are being waived: veterans only need their military discharge and permanent residency papers to sign up.

“If they are in need of financial assistance, chapter 115 is here for them,” says Santiago.

BECOME A PEN PAL FOR A LOCAL VETERAN

Santiago says volunteers are also taking food to veterans and by the end of the week, they will have their Penpal program up and running.

“We’re working on a veterans buddy program, to contact our veterans, to talk to them, check on them, to see what their needs are, how we could help them, and also just to talk,” says Santiago.

Santiago says anyone can sign up to be a pen pal to a veteran. You can email veterans@boston.gov.

If you have a tip, or want to share your story with 7News Investigates, email Sam Smink at ssmink@whdh.com.

 

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