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Michigan Veteran Affairs Agency

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Today on Stateside, the director of a conservative advocacy group talks about why he opposes Proposal 2, the anti-gerrymandering ballot initiative. Plus, Flint native Jim Abbott was born without a right hand, but he still made it to the major league. We talk to the director of a new documentary about the baseball legend.

james redford
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Michigan has consistently ranked in the bottom five states and territories when it comes to helping veterans and their families access federal VA benefits. In 2013, Governor Rick Snyder created the Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency to address the state's low ranking. 

Yet five years after the governor created the MVAA to address the issue, Michigan still ranks near the bottom in connecting veterans with benefits. We conclude our week-long series on the issue with a conversation with James Redford, director of the Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency.

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Michigan has consistently ranked in the bottom five states and territories when it comes to helping veterans and their families access federal VA benefits.

Why are so many Michigan vets not getting the benefits they've earned?

 

All week, Stateside has been digging into this question. We've talked to veterans from two different generations about their experiences returning home. A county-level veteran services administrator shared his concerns about the lack of staff available to help veterans connect to benefits. We also heard from a state representative about what progress the state has — and has not — made. 

State Representative Jason Wentworth (R) testifying before the House Military and Veterans Affairs Committee in February.
Michigan House Republicans

Republican State Representative Jason Wentworth serves Michigan's 97th district and is the chair of the House Military and Veterans Affairs Committee. He served in the United States Army, and before he was elected to the state House, he was a regional coordinator for the Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency (MVAA).

Earlier this year, he worked to get a bill signed into law that will — for the first time — make state funds available for county governments to help veterans apply for federal VA benefits.

Lawrence Dolph in 1969 (L) and now.
Courtesy of Lawrence Dolph

There are about six hundred thousand veterans in Michigan. That's the 11th highest in the nation, according to the U.S. Census. Yet Michigan has consistently ranked in the bottom five states and territories when it comes to helping veterans and their families access federal veteran benefits. These are benefits that could bring much needed assistance with finances, employment, and health care, to name a few.

Sign in front of Grand Rapids Home for Veterans
Google Maps

The Grand Rapids City Commission is scheduled to vote on whether to approve plans for a new veterans' home.

The city’s planning commission voted to approve the $49 million home for military veterans last week.

The current home houses about 260 people, but the new one would only house around 130 vets.

Daniel Waun, a spokesman at the Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency, says no one would be forced to move out of the old building.

 U.S. Army Surgeon General Lt. Gen. Patricia Horoho speaks on Capitol Hill for National Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Awareness Day June 27, 2012
user Army Medicine / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

As veterans return home after serving in the Middle East, the nation is becoming increasingly aware of post-traumatic stress injury.

PTSI affects millions of vets and significantly boosts the risk of depression, suicide, and drug- and alcohol-related deaths.

On top of that, for the veterans struggling with PTSI, it can lead to more run-ins with police.

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There's a lot of talk about supporting our military veterans as they come home and transition back to civilian life. The Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency is standing by to help vets in a variety of ways, from employment to benefits and resources to transition assistance.