Helping veterans can be as easy as buying a raffle ticket this fall.
The state Lottery Commission is launching a “Hometown Heroes” raffle Monday to pump money into a program that delivers small grants to veterans in need of cash as they look for work in the civilian world.
Tickets cost $10, and they’ll be available at markets and convenience stores that sell lottery tickets through Nov. 10 – unless the 300,000 raffle tickets move quickly.
“This is going to be a quick sellout,” said Bill Hanson, director of the state Lottery. “Regardless of what the public may think about a war in Iraq or a War in Afghanistan, I’ve never met anybody who didn’t support the veterans we are sending over there.”
If the tickets sell out, the state Veterans Innovations Program stands to gain $430,000. That’s important because the program hasn’t received much revenue since state lawmakers set aside $2 million when they created it in 2006.
It got a second boost of $500,000 in 2009, but lawmakers won’t steer more tax revenue to the program as they cut spending for other services. It has about $100,000 left on hand, state Veterans Affairs spokeswoman Heidi Audette said.
More than 800 former service members have benefited from state Veterans Affairs grants over the past five years. Two types are available – a one-time $1,000 emergency assistance grant, or an ongoing “competitive” grant aimed at helping veterans support themselves while they pursue workplace training or education.
The Lottery and the Veterans Affairs Department have collected testimonies from people who’ve received the grants, and they’re using the short videos to build momentum for the raffle. The videos can be viewed at walottery.com/heroes.
Washington has one of the highest concentrations of veterans in the country, with more than 60,000 former service members who have served in Iraq or Afghanistan.
The raffle includes 24 prizes of $50,000 and more than 3,000 prizes of up to $250. Winners will be drawn on Veterans Day, Nov. 11, and posted at walottery.com.