Indiana veterans seek more benefits

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Indiana ranks 50th in terms of the quality of life for military retirees, according to a recent survey.

It’s why the leaders of four veterans groups were at the Statehouse asking for help Friday.

Most veterans benefits come from the federal government but four Indiana veterans organizations still believe that state lawmakers can do more to help them.

A large number of the military retirees in Indiana served in the National Guard and, as a result, many don’t legally qualify as veterans. The federal definition of a veteran requires 180 consecutive days on active duty.

“They served 75 days, they’ve served 179 days, come home for a week, gone back and done it again,” said Rep. Peggy Mayfield (R-Martinsville). “They can do that for decades and never be considered a veteran.”

That means they miss out on opportunities that go to veteran-owned businesses and where veterans receive preference.

It’s why Rep. Mayfield has a bill that would define a veteran as anyone who served and was honorably discharged.

They would like to see more veterans courts like the one opened in Indianapolis last year.

And they want a bigger veterans relief fund.

“We need to put up a safety net for those veterans,” said Terry Sanders of the Disabled American Veterans. “We need to help them whether they’re disabled veterans, unemployed veterans, hopeless veterans, we need to help them all.”

Rep. Mayfield says there’s a perception problem.

“I think that there’s an assumption that they’re all being taken care of,” she said, “and in reality they’re not.”

Her Hoosier veteran bill is up for a vote in the Indiana House next week.

A spokesman for the state Department of Veterans Services points out that staff and funding in that agency have doubled under the Pence Administration.

He declined comment on the demands made by veterans and said the governor will leave it up to lawmakers to determine what happens next.


How to make Apple Pie Tacos

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — It’s dessert … in a taco shell!

Apple Pie Tacos are easy, delicious, and kids love them! 

Apple Pie Tacos

9 soft street-taco shells (see note below)
2 tablespoons raw sugar 
1-1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, divided 
5 ROCKIT® apples, skin left on and diced
2 tablespoon raw honey 
1 tablespoon lemon juice 
2 teaspoons cornstarch 
1/4 cup water, plus more
coconut whipped cream 

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. On a plate, sprinkle raw sugar and cinnamon. Gently mix the two together. Spray both sides of the soft taco shells with nonstick cooking spray, then lightly dip both sides in the cinnamon mixture. 
2. Flip a muffin tin over. Place each cinnamon-coated soft taco shell between each of the muffin tins, so that the muffin-tin humps help the taco shell stay in place and formed. Place in the the oven and bake for 10 minutes. Remove and let cool completely. 
3. To make apple filling, combine chopped apples, honey, lemon juice and 1 teaspoon cinnamon in a small saucepan. Stir cornstarch into the 1/4 cup water and add to the saucepan. Heat on medium for about 10 minutes until apples are completely softened and gooey-thick. You may need to add more water — about another 1/4 cup — as the apples cook to create a sauce-like mixture. 
4. Spoon the apple filling into each of the taco shells. Top with coconut whipped cream and a sprinkle cinnamon, or a little granola.  Enjoy immediately! 

Apple Pie Tacos (WISH Photo/Annessa Chumbley)

Note: A tortilla that’s about 3-4 inches across works great. If you need to, you can take a larger wheat tortilla, and cookie-cut it using a 3-4 inch small bowl.