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House Approves New Controls on Military-Family Grants

Unanimous vote follows exit of veterans' affairs director

(INDIANAPOLIS) - A bill cracking down on apparent abuses at Indiana's Department of Veterans Affairs has been unanimously approved by the House.

The Military Family Relief Fund was created in 2007 to provide emergency food and shelter assistance to the families of reservists and National Guardsmen called to active duty. The program has since been expanded to cover veterans' families as well. IDVA director Jim Brown resigned last year after disclosures he'd awarded grants from the fund to department employees.

Greensburg Representative Randy Frye (R) originally proposed disqualifying department employees, but he says veterans' groups asked him to reconsider, arguing some department employees meet the requirements for the program in any other way. The House has unanimously approved a revised version which would require grants to employees to be approved by Indiana's veterans' affairs commission, not the director.

The bill would also cap grants for all recipients at 25-hundred dollars unless the commission approves going higher. The department adopted that rule itself, but Frye says it's legislators' responsibility to set rules for the fund.

The Senate will consider the bill next month.

(Photo: Eric Berman/WIBC)

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