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Not Enough Veterans Signing Up for Assistance

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EDINBURG - A Hidalgo County organization said thousands of dollars in funds remain unclaimed by Rio Grande Valley veterans.

The Hidalgo County Community Service Agency said they fear the money may have to go back to the state if it’s not used.

There are approximately 35,000 veterans living in the Rio Grande Valley.

Veteran Ernesto Sierra said he faced some tough times after completing his military service in 2007. After returning to the Valley, he said he struggled to find a job.

“Having difficulty with physical, mental, emotional issues which makes it difficult integrating into civilian life, and having difficulty transitioning into the civilian life,” he said.

Sierra said he recently heard about the Operation Bravo Zulu, a program offered by HCCSA. The service offers assistance for veteran’s utility bills.

The veteran said he wasted no time signing up and now wants to spread the word.

“For our duty, our efforts to reach out to other soldiers out there, and get them in and expose them to these kinds of programs. So, everybody has a benefit to these programs that are offered to us,” he said.

Mari Gallegos, supervisor for the agency, said they were glad to receive the government grant last June.

“We were awarded $240,000 to help out 400 veterans. We currently helped out around 230 veterans and we are still looking for about 170 veterans,” she said.

Gallegos said veterans have to prove their honorable discharge and meet the financial requirements.

The agency’s supervisor said the money needs to be awarded by June.

Veterans can call the Hidalgo County Community Service Agency at 956-383-6240 to inquire about the program.

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