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Laws: Veterans Relief and Rehabilitation

As used in this chapter, "veteran" means an individual who served in the armed forces of the United States on federal active duty for reasons other than training and who has been discharged under other than dishonorable conditions.
The state treasurer shall keep in the state treasury the separate trust fund known as the veterans' aid fund. Disbursements from such fund must be made as provided in this chapter.
The moneys in the permanent revolving fund of the veterans' aid fund are available for:
 
1. Making loans to any veteran and to a surviving spouse of a veteran if the spouse has not remarried;
 
2. Collecting loans if in the opinion of the department a person has the financial means to repay and that person deliberately refuses to repay; and
 
3. Paying administrative expenses related to the making and collection of loans made from the fund.
The purpose of the veterans' aid fund is to make loans to any veteran and to a surviving spouse of a veteran if the spouse has not remarried. A qualified applicant may be permitted to receive more than one loan providing the total amount of all loans does not exceed five thousand dollars.
A qualified person may apply to the department of veterans' affairs in such form as it provides, either while the applicant is waiting for relief or assistance from another agency, state or federal, or for further assistance for the applicant's education, or otherwise.
If the department of veterans' affairs is satisfied that an applicant is a veteran or the surviving spouse of a veteran and has not remarried, and that the applicant is a citizen and resident of this state, and that the applicant meets the criteria set forth in rules adopted pursuant to section 37-14-10 regarding qualifications to obtain a loan, the department may loan to the applicant a sum from the veterans' aid fund not to exceed five thousand dollars. Additional loans may be made to an applicant if the applicant still meets the loan criteria and if the total of all loans does not exceed five thousand dollars. If an applicant is provided more than one loan, the amounts will be consolidated into one payment.
Upon the granting of an application and at the time of disbursement, the applicant, or the applicant's legal agent, shall execute a loan agreement with the department of veterans' affairs that within a specified period of not to exceed four years from the date of the receipt of the last item of the advancement, the applicant will repay to the state for the use of the veterans' aid fund the full amount of all advancements made to the applicant with interest as provided in rules adopted under section 37-14-10, but not to exceed ten percent annually. One-half of the interest must be waived if timely repayment is made to the fund as set forth in rules adopted pursuant to section 37-14-10.
 
The department may take necessary legal action to collect, compromise, or settle loans if in the opinion of the department the person has the financial means to repay, and the person deliberately refuses to do so. The department may release from financial liability any person it determines is financially unable to repay the loan through no fault of the person. The department may assess and collect a late payment penalty as provided in section 47-14-05.
All payments or other expenditures approved by the department of veterans' affairs must be made upon vouchers approved by the office of the budget.
The department of veterans' affairs shall keep full records and files of all transactions, applications, advancements, and business pertaining to the veterans' aid fund. The department may submit a biennial report to the governor and the secretary of state in accordance with section 54-06-04.
The administrative committee on veterans' affairs may make and promulgate such reasonable rules and regulations as may be necessary and proper to administer the provisions of this chapter relating to the veterans' aid fund. In any hearings or action taken under the provisions of this chapter, the provisions of chapter 28-32 do not apply.
The department of veterans' affairs may expend for any purpose necessary to the proper administration of this chapter sums not to exceed the amount appropriated therefor by the legislative assembly. Vouchers must be issued in the manner provided in this chapter.
The department of veterans' affairs may grant or refuse an application for relief or assistance from financial assistance programs under the control of the department under policies set by the administrative committee on veterans' affairs. The committee shall adopt and establish an appeal process. The department's decisions are appealable to an appeals committee appointed by the chairman of the administrative committee. A hearing before the appeals committee may be closed upon request of the applicant. An applicant who requests a closed hearing may invite to that hearing any two representatives and the applicant's spouse or one other family member. Each decision of the appeals committee must give the reasons for granting or refusing an application for relief or assistance. The decision of the appeals committee is final. The record of the hearing, including the identity of the applicant, is an exempt record.
The veterans' postwar trust fund is a permanent trust fund of the state of North Dakota and consists of moneys transferred or credited to the fund under this chapter and other laws. Investment of the fund is the responsibility of the state treasurer who shall invest the fund only in those legal investments authorized by section 21-10-07. All income received from investments is to be utilized only for programs of benefit and service to veterans or their dependents, and all income earned in a biennium is appropriated to the administrative committee on veterans' affairs on a continuing basis in the following biennium and not in the biennium the income is earned for expenditure on these programs as authorized by law.
The board of county commissioners of each county of the state of North Dakota shall appoint, employ, and pay, on a full-time or part-time basis, an officer to be known as a county veterans' service officer. The veterans' affairs commissioner may work directly with county veterans' service officers. An individual may serve as a county veterans' service officer in more than one county. The appointment must be made with the prior advice of the commissioner of veterans' affairs, and in accordance with veterans' preference as provided in section 37-19.1-02. By August 1, 2011, all county veterans' service officers must be accredited by the national association of county veterans' service officers. It is the duty of the county veterans' service officer to become acquainted with the laws, both state and federal, enacted for the benefit of returning servicemen and servicewomen to assist such returning members of the armed forces in the presentation, proof, and establishment of such claims, privileges, and rights as they have.
 
It also is the duty of the county veterans' service officer to actively cooperate with and to coordinate the activities of the state and federal agencies within the county which the officer serves to facilitate their operation and ensure promptness in the solution of the problems concerned with the reestablishment of returning servicemen and servicewomen in civilian pursuits. A county veterans' service officer may not serve as a conservator for an individual who is receiving benefits or services from the department of veterans' affairs or the United States department of veterans' affairs, except if the individual is the spouse or an immediate family member of the officer, or unless the conservator is appointed by the county under chapter 11-21.
The county veterans' service officer must be paid such monthly salary for full-time or part-time work as the board of county commissioners deems commensurate with the needs of the situation, together with actual living expenses when absent from the officer's established office upon official business in an amount not exceeding that allowed to state officials, upon itemized statements submitted by the officer and supported by sub vouchers or receipts as provided by section 21-05-01 and the officer's actual transportation expenses, which may not exceed the amounts provided by section 54-06-09, and must be in itemized form showing the mileage traveled, the days when and how traveled, and the purpose thereof, verified by the officer's affidavit and supported by sub vouchers or receipts as provided by section 21-05-01.