Advocate groups, Congress working to support veterans during coronavirus crisis

Washington-DC

WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — While many Americans are struggling because of the economic downturn stemming from the coronavirus, the nation’s veterans may be more prone to financial hardship. 

“I think the veteran population is disproportionately negatively affected by the COVID virus,” said Michael Linnington, Wounded Warriors Project CEO. 

Linnington says many veterans have gig economy or vocational trade jobs that can’t be done from home. 

“Or they’re hourly employees. Many of them are on fixed incomes that don’t file tax returns,” Linnington explains.

On Thursday the organization committed $10 million for wounded veterans who’ve lost their income. Ten thousand families will get a one-time $1,000 check to help cover basic needs. 

“Rent payments, pay their utility bill. Buy food for their families. These stories are really poignant and difficult,” Linnington said. 

Some veterans worry that even accepting a stimulus check from the government may increase their overall income to a level where they no longer qualify for VA benefits. It’s an issue Congress is now taking up.

“We’ve put in legislation to protect them from being disqualified from those programs,” said Rep. Mark Takano, C-Calif.   

But Congressman Takano says stimulus benefits may also complicate many veterans’ tax situations, especially those on disability who don’t typically pay income tax. 

“This very special class of veterans really needs the VA and the IRS, and the Treasury department to figure out a solution,” Takano said. 

He says the Veterans Affairs Committee will continue to push all relevant agencies so no veteran loses any benefits. 

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