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Veterans' funds tight

Econonmy, Iraq-Afghan missions test coffers as new programs opening

August 16, 2009
Although veterans traditionally have a better employment rate than most people, the current bad economy, injuries and other concerns are giving some a harder time than their fellow residents.

"Think of all the things everyday Americans are facing with this economy, then think of facing that when you've just come home from combat, or are coming and going out again," said Tom Tarantino, legislative associate of the Iraq/Afghanistan Veterans Association. "Foreclosure rates in military communities are four times higher than elsewhere and unemployment is two percent higher."

Add those factors to any injuries — mental or physical — and the overall stress of readjusting to civilian life, and it can be "hard to find a job or focus enough to keep it," he said. Tarantino served as a platoon leader in the Army's 11th Armored Cavalry in Iraq during 2005 and 2006.

Southbridge Veterans Agent Michael Trombley has started seeing some of those vets come forward seeking financial help under the state's Chapter 115 benefit program. Although he's now serving just eight people that way, Trombley predicted the number is likely to grow as people exhaust their unemployment benefits.

See Tuesday's Southbridge Evening News for complete coverage of community news.

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