There are 14,933 military veterans who live on the North Olympic Peninsula — about one in six residents in Jefferson and Clallam counties.
Some can’t pay the rent.
Others need money for prescription drugs or utility bills, or they leave spouses who need financial help with burial expenses.
Veterans relief funds — fueled by property taxes — help cover expenses of veterans in need.
In most instances, veterans can tap into the fund just once a year.
Widows of veterans can also apply for funds to cover burials.
In Jefferson, the fund has been whittled down to $17,772.
But in Clallam County, the account has grown to $325,000, though only a tenth of that goes to veterans. The rest just sits there, unspent.
And now, more veterans than ever are eligible for help.
Before 2002, you had to serve only during certain wartime periods, such as World War II or Vietnam, to draw from the fund.
But this year, the Legislature expanded the definition of veterans to include anyone who has fulfilled their initial military service obligation and been honorably discharged.
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