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Toledo, Ohio & Lake Erie

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State Rep. Connie Pillich, from the Cincinnati area, swung by the American Legion – Christ Dunberger Post No. 537 on Thursday to discuss veterans’ issues.

Pillich, who is a candidate for Ohio treasurer, has introduced legislation to improve the lives of veterans. She spent eight years in the Air Force, first as a lieutenant, then a captain.

She was stationed in the United States as well as overseas. “I went in as a second lieutenant, and served in support of Operation Desert Storm. I’ve made it my focus to help our veterans and make sure we do everything to help their families as well,” she said.

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Veterans Jim Sheehy and Robert Stewart with State Repre-
sentative Connie Pillich. (Press photo by Ken Grosjean)

Pillich is doing roundtable discussions across the state to address veterans affairs, with a focus on finances.

“I talk about the financial issues. We all know how hard it is to be in the military. I didn’t own anything other than what I had in my car. It was very easy to get a loan, but it was a lot of work to pay that off. It was very stressful for a young lieutenant. We were pretty young when we went in. I worried about my finances for about a year. I had one credit card. My car broke down. I had to max out my credit card to get my car fixed. I was lucky I didn’t have anyone to support. It was just me. So think of these young people in the military who have families.”

Pillich said there should be bipartisan support for legislation for veterans.

“There is no Republican way or Democratic way to do things. It’s just the right way. It’s not about politics. It’s about getting the mission done. It’s the same approach we should use in the Legislature. About 30 percent of the veterans from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan report they have financial challenges when they come back. They certainly learned how to put the mission first when they were on active duty. But they didn’t learn how to put together their household budget. They didn’t learn how dangerous it is to use your credit cards, they didn’t learn how interest rates can multiply your debt. So we need to make sure we provide more financial literacy opportunities for our military, both on active duty and in the guard and reserves.”

Eligible veterans who qualify should know about the Veterans’ Bonus, which she introduced in the Legislature in 2009.

“We think about 90,000 veterans still qualify, but have not yet applied. We want to make sure we reach out to everyone. This is the last year for veterans of the Iraq war to apply. Time is running out. You might fill out your application, but you may need supporting documentation,” she said. “And it might take you some time to get it. So we want everyone to apply as soon as possible. I want everyone to put the word out that this bonus is available.” For more information on the Veterans’ Bonus, call 877-Ohiovet (644-6838), or 419-216-6990. Applications can also be downloaded on the website “veteransbonus.ohio.gov.”

“It doesn’t matter if you’re done with your service, or still on active duty,” she said.

Other initiatives she introduced into the Legislature include providing unemployment insurance for military spouses.

“The spouse works to make ends meet. But when members of the military are transferred, the spouse has to quit. The average spouse loses six to nine months of wages in every transfer. And that can be devastating for a military family. Ohio is only a handful of states that expressly prohibits military spouses from getting compensation,” she said.

She would also like to see Ohio recognize commercial or professional licenses from other states. “We’ve introduced legislation to require that. There are lots of things we can do, very minor laws we can pass, that can have a major difference for military families.”

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