Coronavirus: Food, financial assistance for area veterans

'It’s not a question of embarrassment or shame.'

Ohio’s county Veterans Service Commissions want local military veterans to know that the agency can help them through the COVID quarantine.

Programs through the Commission can help pay for rent, food and transportation to medical services. Similar help is available to veterans in other counties through those veterans service offices.

“It’s not a question of embarrassment or shame to go down there and ask for help if you need to,” said Michael Russell, an Air Force veteran, who sought assistance after delayed unemployment benefits hurt his ability to pay rent and bills.

Russell said he received rental assistance from the Montgomery County Veterans Service Commission as well as grocery store vouchers that kept him and Rascal, his Yorkie mix, from going hungry. But Russell, who was a security specialist stationed in Nevada from 1982-84, wasn’t qualified for all the cash assistance that some veterans are eligible for as a result of the pandemic.

“I’m not disheartened by that … What they did got me through what I needed,” he said. “I’m up on my DP&L, I’m up on my Vectren, my rent is good. My cupboards don’t look like Old Mother Hubbard’s right now … I don’t want to be that vet out on the street, if I can help it.”



Kim Frisco started her job as executive director of Montgomery County Veterans Service Commission on March 9. A week later, the coronavirus pandemic prompted business shutdowns and layoffs. Many veterans were caught up in the economic downturn.

“Veterans in our community have been struggling,” she said.

There are more than 43,000 veterans in Montgomery County and 775,000 in Ohio, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Veterans in Montgomery County have filed 179 claims since March 17, receiving about $161,000 in assistance for food, housing, utility bills and transportation costs, according to commission records.

As of Tuesday, the Department of Veterans Affairs reported more than 43,000 COVID-19 cases and 2,327 known deaths. The Dayton VA has had 143 cases and seven known deaths, according to VA records.

The coronavirus aid comes on top of the office’s normal mission: helping veterans navigate the bureaucracy and assist with the filing of claims so they receive all the benefits they are entitled to, Frisco said.

When the state’s stay-at-home order was issued in March and businesses shut down, the need for food assistance came immediately, Frisco said.

“What we found out very quickly ... our community needed food and our food bank was low,” she said. “Some of our food pantries were not distributing food during that time.”

Frisco said she collaborated with Kroger headquarters and reached out to all 18 stores within Montgomery County to set up a voucher program to make it easier for veterans to obtain groceries.

Frisco said the office can immediately approve food vouchers of $200 for a single veteran, $300 for a married couple and $500 for a veteran with children. Veterans can apply as many times as they need assistance.

So far, the office has distributed 65 food vouchers totaling $12,050, according to the office.

The food voucher program is one likely to stay in place for veterans beyond the pandemic, she said.

Even with vouchers, many veterans also have challenges accessing food, so the office can also provide bus, taxi or ride-hailing service fare, Frisco said.

Veterans who lost jobs or income due to the pandemic are also eligible for $1,000 grants. Since mid-March, 92 veterans displaced from employment have filed for the grants, which remain open.

“I do not believe everybody knows about it. Or, knowing our veterans, they’re probably thinking, ‘Somebody else is hurting more than I am and I’m not going to get it.’ But we have the funding to assist all veterans that need it,” Frisco said.

Additionally, veterans whose homes were impacted by the Memorial Day 2019 tornadoes may also still apply for rebuilding assistance through the end of this year at the commission office.

Kenneth Armour, who served in the Navy from 1977-1981, worked in a combat information center aboard ship making sure it was on course and tracking movements of other ships.

After a time in California, Armour moved back to Dayton in 1999 and started a home remodeling business – which came to a standstill in March.

“When the coronavirus hit, everyone was pretty much regulated to their home. Everyone was nervous and paranoid,” he said. “No one wants strangers in their home when there is a pandemic going around and there’s no vaccine.”

Armour said he and his wife, both in their 60s, fared better off than some because they own their Dayton home, but they still needed help paying for groceries and utilities and sought help at the Veterans Service Commission.

“They were there in a great time of need and I humbly appreciate it,” he said.

Help for veterans

Montgomery County Veterans Service Commission - 937-225-4801

Clark County Veterans Service Commission - 937-521-2030

Greene County Veterans Service Commission - 937-562-6020

Miami County Veterans Services Commission - 937-440-8126

Preble County Veterans Service Commission - 937-456-6111

Warren County Veterans Service Commission - 513-695-2717

Housing programs for all Montgomery County residents impacted by pandemic

The Montgomery County Office of CARES Act housing programs

Eligibility for each housing program requires a loss of employment income after March 1 due to COVID-19. The loss of income could have been caused by a layoff, reduced work hours, furlough or reduction in pay.

Mortgage Assistance Program

The HomeOwnership Center, a program of County Corp, is administering the Mortgage Assistance Program, which can help residents bring mortgage payments current.

Montgomery County residents may qualify for mortgage relief if you:

- Own a home in Montgomery County with an original mortgage of $200,000 or less.

- Are behind on mortgage on or after March 1.

Applicants will be required to complete an application, provide required documentation, and discuss the circumstances with HomeOwnership Center staff as well as participate in follow-up with HomeOwnership Center staff about financial and mortgage status.

Apply for the Mortgage Assistance Program at

Rental Assistance Program

Miami Valley Community Action Partnership is administering the Rental Assistance Program, which can help people catch up on rental payments.

Renters may qualify for relief if you:

- Rent your residence in Montgomery County.

- Fell behind on rent on or after March 1, 2020.

- Complete the application available on Miami Valley CAP’s website. An intake specialist will follow-up on applications and ask for additional documentation.

Apply for the Rental Assistance Program at

Utility Assistance Program

Residents may also qualify for financial assistance with gas, electric, or bulk fuel utility payments due to loss of income caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

Apply for the Utility Assistance Program at

Residents can also sign up at for email alerts about the programs, including upcoming financial aid programs for agriculture, education, nonprofits or healthcare institutions.

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