H. B. 2285
(By Mr. Speaker (Mr. Kiss) and Delegates Varner, Michael, Leach,
Kominar, H.K. White and L. Williams)
(Originating in the House Committee on Finance.)
[February 15, 2005]
providing for the payment of the veterans bonus to veterans
of the Kosovo, Afghanistan, and Iraq conflicts, and for the
administration thereof; designating the division of veterans
affairs to administer provisions of act; providing powers and
duties of the director of the division; authorizing adoption
of rules and regulations; authorizing appointment of veterans
advisory committee; setting forth qualifications to receive
bonus; providing definitions; providing for payment of bonus
to relatives of deceased veterans; specifying amounts of
bonus; setting forth periods to apply and receive bonus;
providing for determination of validity of each claim for
bonus by director; providing for a certified list of eligible
veterans and relatives of deceased veterans; providing for
review of decision of director by board of review; authorizing
appointment of additional boards of review and compensation for members; providing for judicial review of decisions of
board of review; creation of veterans bonus fund; exempting
bonus from taxation; excluding bonus from certain debt
collection actions; prohibiting claim for bonus from
assignment; limiting charges for services provided in
connection with application for bonus; and prohibiting certain
acts and providing criminal penalties therefor.
Be it enacted by the Legislature of West Virginia:
PAYMENT OF VETERANS BONUS.
§1. Division of veterans affairs to administer act; veterans
The West Virginia division of veterans affairs is hereby
designated as the state agency to administer the provisions of this
act. The director of the division of veterans affairs shall do all
things necessary for the proper administration thereof. The
director, with the advice and consent of the veterans council, may
adopt and promulgate such reasonable rules and regulations, not
inconsistent herewith, as may be necessary to effect the purposes
of this act, including regulations concerning evidence or other
data required to establish eligibility and qualifications for the
bonus as herein provided. The director shall prepare and furnish
all necessary forms which shall be distributed by him or her
through such veterans and other organizations as he or she may deem most practicable.
The division of veterans affairs shall, insofar as possible,
utilize the personnel, supplies and equipment of the division in
the administration of this act. The division may employ such
additional personnel as may be necessary for the proper
administration of this act, subject, however, to the approval of
the secretary of the department of military affairs and public
safety who must also approve the salaries and other compensation
for such personnel.
The governor may appoint a veterans advisory committee,
consisting of representatives of veterans organizations chartered
under acts of Congress and operating in this state, to advise and
counsel the director in the administration of this act. Such
committee shall meet on the call of the director at such times and
places as he or she may specify.
§2. Veterans entitled to bonus.
In grateful recognition of their services in time of grave
national emergency, a cash bonus as herein provided shall be paid
to veterans of the Kosovo, Afghanistan, and Iraq conflicts. The
bonus shall be paid to (1) Veterans of the armed forces of the
United States who served on active duty in areas of conflict in
Iraq, or were members of reserve components called to active duty
by the President of the United States under Title 10, United States
Code section 12301, 12302, 12303 or 12304 during the Iraqi War, between the nineteenth day of March, two thousand three and the
date determined by the President or Congress of the United States
as the end of the involvement of the United States armed forces in
Iraq, both dates inclusive; or (2) veterans, active service
members, or members of reserve components of the armed forces of
the United States, who served on active duty in one of the military
operations for which he or she received a campaign badge or
expeditionary medal during the periods hereinafter described. For
purposes of this act, periods of active duty in a campaign or
expedition are designated as: The conflict in Kosovo between the
twentieth day of November, one thousand nine hundred ninety-five
and the thirty-first day of December, two thousand, both dates
inclusive; and the conflict in Afghanistan, between the seventh day
of October, two thousand one and the date determined by the
President or Congress of the United States as the end of the
involvement of the United States armed forces in Afghanistan, both
dates inclusive. For purposes of this act, not more than one bonus
may be paid to or on behalf of the service of a veteran. In order
to be eligible to receive a bonus, a veteran must have been a bona
fide resident of the State of West Virginia at the time of his or
her entry into active service and for a period of at least six
months immediately prior thereto, and has not been separated from
service under conditions other than honorable.
The bonus shall also be paid to any veteran otherwise qualified pursuant to this amendment, who was discharged within
ninety days after entering the armed forces because of a service-
As used in this act, "armed forces" means the army, navy, air
force, marine corps and coast guard of the United States.
As used in this act, "active duty" means full-time active
service in the armed forces with full duty pay status, but shall
not include time absent from leave, absent over leave, while in
confinement or any other time classified by the respective branches
of the armed forces as "bad" or "lost" time.
For purposes of this act, "active service" shall mean the
person's active duty as a member of one of the armed forces during
the periods of conflict referred to herein.
As used in this act, "bona fide resident" shall mean any
person who, at the time of his or her entry into active service as
such is defined herein, was a legal resident of the state of West
Virginia. Evidence of legal residence shall be shown by the
presentation of evidence that the person filed a West Virginia
personal income tax for the tax year immediately preceding his or
her entry into active service or proof that he or she maintained a
permanent place of abode in West Virginia at the time of his or her
entry into active service and for a period of at least six months
prior to entry into active service.
§3. Payment of bonus to relatives of deceased veterans.
The bonus to which any deceased veteran would have been
entitled, if living, shall be paid to the following surviving
relatives of the veteran, if the relatives are residents of the
State when the application is made and if the relatives are living
at the time payment is made: Any unremarried widow or widower, or,
if none, all children, stepchildren and adopted children under the
age of eighteen, or, if none, any parent, stepparent, adoptive
parent or person standing in loco parentis. The categories of
persons listed shall be treated as separate categories listed in
order of entitlement and where there is more than one member of a
class, the bonus shall be paid to each member according to his or
her proportional share. Where a deceased veteran?s death was
connected with the service and resulted from the service during the
time period specified, however, the surviving relatives shall be
paid, in accordance with the same order of entitlement, the sum of
two thousand dollars in lieu of any bonus to which the deceased
might have been entitled if living.
As used in this act, "unremarried widow" or "unremarried
widower" means the spouse of a deceased veteran, legally married to
the veteran at the time of his or her death, who has not remarried
at the time of making application.
As used in this act, "child" means the natural child, adopted
child or stepchild of the deceased veteran upon whose service
eligibility is derived and who has not attained the age of eighteen years at the time of making application.
As used in this act, "parent" means either of the natural,
step, or adoptive father or mother of, or person standing in loco
parentis to, the deceased veteran upon whose service eligibility is
§4. Amount of bonus.
The amount of the bonus shall be six hundred dollars per
eligible veteran who was in active service, inside the combat zone
in Kosovo, Afghanistan or Iraq as designated by the President or
Congress of the United States at anytime during the dates specified
hereinabove. In the case of the Iraqi War and the conflict in
Afghanistan, the amount of bonus shall be four hundred dollars per
eligible veteran who was in active service outside the combat zone
designated by the President or Congress of the United States during
the dates specified hereinabove. For purposes of this act, not
more than one bonus shall be paid to or on behalf of the service of
any one veteran. In the event any veteran is eligible to receive
more than one bonus, the veteran shall receive the greater bonus.
§5. Limitation on time of filing application.
No bonus may be paid to any person, otherwise entitled
thereto, unless application therefor shall be filed with the
division of veterans affairs. No bonus may be paid to any person,
otherwise entitled thereto, for service periods of active duty in
a campaign or expedition in the conflict in Kosovo within the time periods contained hereinabove, unless application therefor shall be
filed with the division of veterans affairs on or before the
thirtieth day of June, two thousand six. No bonus may be paid to
any person, otherwise entitled thereto, for service periods of
active duty in a campaign or expedition in the conflict in
Afghanistan within the time periods contained hereinabove or for
service on active duty in areas of conflict in Iraq or for active
duty service of reserve components called by the President of the
United States as described hereinabove, unless application therefor
shall be filed within one year of the end of such veteran's
§6. Determination of director of the validity of claims.
Upon receipt of an application for benefits hereunder, the
director shall, as soon as may be practicable, determine the
validity of the claim. If the determination is made that an
applicant is eligible for a bonus, the director shall mail to the
applicant a notification of such determination. If the
determination is made that no benefits hereunder are payable, then
the director shall mail to the applicant a notification denying
benefits and citing the reason or reasons for such denial.
Any applicant who is aggrieved by any such determination of
the director may demand that his or her claim be reviewed as
hereinafter provided. Such demand for review shall be filed with
the director, in writing, within sixty days after the date on which the notice of award or notice of denial was mailed to the
applicant. Upon receipt of such demand for review, the director
shall certify the demand, together with all files and records
relating to the application, to a board of review. Unless such
demand for review is duly filed with the director, all findings and
orders of the director with reference to such claim shall be final
and conclusive upon the applicant.
If the director determines that an applicant is eligible for
a bonus, he or she shall certify that finding to the governor. The
governor shall then create a list of veterans and relatives of
deceased veterans eligible to receive such bonus and certify such
list to the Legislature at any regular or special session.
§7. Review of board hearing.
For the purposes of this act, the veterans council of the
division of veterans affairs is hereby designated as the "Veterans
Bonus Board of Review." Under rules and regulations adopted by the
veterans council, any one or more members of the board of review
may conduct hearings on a demand by an applicant for review of the
determination of the director, and may report his or her or their
findings thereon, together with the entire record of the case, to
the board of review for its final determination and decision.
If the number of demands for review hereunder becomes too
numerous to be handled expeditiously by the veterans council, the
governor, upon the recommendation of the council, may appoint one or more additional boards of review. Additional boards shall
consist of not more than five members, one of whom shall be a
lawyer, who shall have the same qualifications as the members of
the veterans council, and who shall serve at the will and pleasure
of the governor for such time as may be necessary for the purposes
of this act. Each such additional board of review shall have the
same authority and its final decision shall have the same force and
effect as that of the veterans council under the provisions of this
Upon receipt from the director of the files and records
relating to any claim, the board, or a member or members thereof,
as the case may be, shall fix a time and place for a hearing
thereon. The applicant shall be notified of the time and place
fixed and shall be informed of his or her right to demand a public
hearing if he or she so desires. At the hearing, the claim shall
be reexamined de novo and the submission of additional evidence may
be required or permitted. Upon the conclusion of such hearing, the
board of review, on the basis of the record and the
recommendations, if any, made by the member or members who
conducted the hearing, shall enter its order reversing, affirming
or modifying the determination made by the director.
Any order so entered by the board shall be final and
conclusive upon the applicant and the director unless an
application is made for review to the West Virginia supreme court of appeals as hereinafter provided. The board shall mail to the
applicant and to the director a copy of the order entered by it in
All notices and correspondence shall be directed to the
applicant at the address listed on his or her application and all
notices and correspondence to the director shall be addressed to
him or her at his or her office in the city of Charleston.
The director shall provide for each board of review such
clerical and stenographic assistants and such supplies as may be
necessary for the performance of its duties.
Each member of a board of review
shall receive no salary, but
each member shall receive the same compensation and expense
reimbursement as is paid to members of the Legislature for their
interim duties as recommended by the citizens legislative
compensation commission and authorized by law for each day or
portion thereof engaged in the discharge of official duties.
§8. Court review of final orders of review board.
Within thirty days after notification of the entry of any
final order of a board of review, the director or the applicant
affected may petition for review of such order by the West Virginia
supreme court of appeals.
§9. Legislative appropriations paid into veterans bonus fund;
expenditures; investment thereof; unexpended balance.
All money as appropriated by the Legislature for the payment
of a cash bonus to veterans as provided in the Veterans Bonus
Amendment of 2004 shall be paid into the veterans bonus fund which
is hereby created in the office of the state treasurer and such
fund shall be expended solely for the payment of such veterans
bonus. Except for such sums necessary for current operating
balances, such fund shall be invested and reinvested by the West
Virginia state board of investments in accordance with the
provisions of article six, chapter twelve of the code of West
Virginia, one thousand nine hundred thirty-one, as amended:
Provided, That no such investment or reinvestment shall adversely
affect the current operating balances of such fund. Any unexpended
balance remaining in this fund after payment of all eligible
veterans and relatives of deceased veterans as is from time to time
established by the certified list created by the Governor shall be
available for appropriation by the Legislature.
§10. Penalty for making false statements.
Any person who shall knowingly make any false or misleading
statement or representation, oral or written, in support of any
claim for a bonus under the provisions of this act, shall be guilty
of a felony, and, upon conviction thereof, shall be punished by
imprisonment in a state correctional facility for not less than one
nor more than five years.
§11. Penalty for filing more than one application.
Only one application shall be filed by any veteran or by any
person who claims to be entitled to a share of the bonus payable in
the case of any deceased veteran. Any person who, with intent to
defraud, violates the provisions of this section shall be guilty of
a felony, and, upon conviction thereof, shall be punished by a fine
of not less than five hundred dollars nor more than one thousand
dollars, or by imprisonment in a state correctional facility for
not less than one nor more than two years, or by both such fine and
§12. Bonus payment not subject to taxation or legal process;
claim therefor not assignable.
The bonus provided by this act is hereby declared to be a gift
or gratuity made as a token of appreciation for the service
rendered by the veteran to the people of West Virginia in time of
grave national emergency and is in no sense compensation for such
services. The money received as such bonus shall be exempt from
taxation and such money, or any claim therefor, shall not be
subject to garnishment, attachment or levy of execution. A claim
for payment of a bonus under the provisions of this act shall not
be assignable for any purpose whatsoever.
§13. Collection of fees or charges; penalty.
No fee or charge shall be made by any person, attorney, agent
or representative for any service in connection with the filing of an application for payment of a bonus hereunder, except such fees
as are provided by law for the performance of official duties by a
duly elected or appointed officer of this state or a political
subdivision thereof. No person shall, for a consideration,
discount or attempt to discount or advance money upon any warrant
issued for payment of any bonus provided for in this act.
If an applicant shall employ an attorney to represent him or
her in connection with the prosecution of his or her claim before
a board of review, or before the supreme court of appeals, the
attorney shall file with the director an executed copy of his or
her contract of employment, and the total amount of the fee therein
provided shall not exceed twenty-five percent of the amount under
Any person who violates any provision of this section shall be
guilty of a misdemeanor, and, upon conviction thereof, shall be
punished by fine of not less than twenty-five dollars nor more than
five hundred dollars, or by imprisonment in the county or regional
jail for not less than ten days nor more than twelve months, or by
both such fine and imprisonment.
Note: The purpose of the bill is to provide the
administrative procedure for the application for and payment of the
veterans bonuses authorized by the constitutional amendment
(HJR114) ratified on November 2, 2004.