The Indiana House unanimously passed legislation Monday to tighten the controls on the state’s Military Family Relief Fund.
The bill is a response to controversy last year at the Indiana Department of Veterans Affairs.
An Indianapolis Star investigation revealed state Veterans Affairs agency workers got unfair access to Military Family Relief Fund dollars – more money, for instance, than the program allows, and for purposes (such as car repairs) that other veterans were denied.
Rep. Randy Frye (R-Greensburg) says his bill moves a lot of authority over fund disbursements outside the agency, into the hands of the Indiana Veterans Affairs Commission.
“We wanted this to be fair, equitable to everyone, and in a timely manner,” Frye says.
Rep. Karlee Macer (D-Indianapolis) sits on the commission. She calls the bill a good first step but says it doesn’t entirely solve the problem.
“We just want to make sure that we’ll watch this and watch the progress that happens, as well,” Macer says.
Former Veterans Affairs agency head James Brown resigned last year in the wake of the controversy.