The $5,000 Grant Service Members and Veterans Probably Don’t Know Exists


unmetneedsThe Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) has a grant of up to $5,000 to help provide financial assistance to help cover expenses such as housing expenses, vehicle expenses, utilities and primary phone, food and more.  The grant of up to $5,000 is part of the Unmet Needs Program and does not have to be paid back.  Applicants can also receive the grant twice as long as the applications are at least 18 months apart and they meet all other criteria.


To receive a grant, the service member has to be on active duty or discharged from active duty within 72 months prior to applying, and negatively affected by their military service such as financial issues due to deployment or other military-related activity. Even if an applicant is not eligible for the a grant, everyone is eligible to receive referrals and resource information.

What kind of expenses does the Unmet Needs Program assist with?

Unmet Needs assists with any expenses that are classified as “basic life needs”, which includes, but is not limited to the following:

  • housing expenses such as mortgage, rent, repairs, and insurance
  • vehicle expenses such as payments, repairs, and insurance
  • utilities and primary phone
  • food and incidentals
  • children’s clothing, diapers, formula, necessary school or childcare expenses
  • medical bills, prescriptions and eyeglasses – the patient’s portion for necessary or emergency medical care only.

What kind of expenses are ineligible for assistance through the Unmet Needs Program?

  • Credit cards, military charge cards or retail store cards
  • Personal, student and payday loans
  • Negative bank accounts (over draft fees and charges etc.)
  • Cable, Internet, or secondary phones
  • Investigational or cosmetic medical procedures & expenses
  • Taxes
  • Child support, alimony, or legal expenses
  • Military debt, or debt owed to a friend/family member
  • Furniture, electronic equipment or vehicle rentals
  • Down payments on homes or vehicles
  • Reimbursements for items already paid for
  • Bills obviously due to excessive use or mismanagement

How long does the application process take?

Once an application has been completed and submitted with the necessary documents, the Unmet Needs case worker reviews it and contacts the applicant. All applications are verified with the Point of Contact, and all expenses are verified with the creditors. Payments are sent directly to the creditor to ensure proper disbursement of donations.

The applications are processed in the order in which they are received. The Unmet Needs office takes no more than 20 business days to process the applications after receipt of all required documentation. Caseworkers cannot move forward with a case until a completed application and all supporting documentation is received.

The length of time to process a request for assistance depends upon the information provided on the application and the amount of research conducted. After verification of the emergency from the service member’s point of contact and contacting creditors, a check is normally processed within 5-7 business days. The process may be expedited if circumstances demand it.

What additional documents are needed for the Unmet Needs Program to process an application?

A copy of the service member’s most recent active duty orders or DD-214(member copy 4), copies of bills that they need assistance with, a written statement from the point of contact verifying the hardship, and the program’s Terms and Conditions signed by applicant. Depending on the situation, additional documentation may be requested.

Does Unmet Needs assist after a natural disaster?

The Unmet Needs Natural Disaster Assistance (i.e. flood, fire, earthquake and tornado) provides grants in the amounts of $300.00 for power loss or damage to home, or $500.00 for the total loss of primary residence. In order to qualify, service members must submit the single page application within 30 days of the state-declared natural disaster and a copy of their most recent DD-214 or orders, showing that they served on active duty within the past 72 months

Who is the Point of Contact?

For active duty members, the Point of Contact is the senior member of the service member’s chain of command, E-8 or above, family assistance center coordinator, family readiness group, or a medical hold case worker. For those who are no longer in the military, the Point of Contact can be a social worker, case manager, VA representative, or a VFW service officer.

How can I contact the Unmet Needs Program?

The Unmet Needs program is located in the Veterans of Foreign Wars National Headquarters in Kansas City.  You can find the application here.  If you are applying for the Unmet Needs Disaster Assistance, use this application.

Mailing Address:
Unmet Needs Program
406 W. 34th Street
Kansas City, MO 64111

Toll Free Number: 866-789-6333
FAX Number: 816-968-2779
Email Address: [email protected]
Website: www.vfw.org/UnmetNeeds/

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