Michigan’s veteran population are afforded many benefits and services through both state and federal programs. Many of the programs offer eligible veterans assistance with housing, free or low cost mental health counseling and specialized nursing care, when needed. Veterans are also offered services that assist those who wish to return to school or who would like to enter civilian employment fields. Several of the services and benefits offered to veterans may also be extended to a veteran’s immediate family. Michigan’s veteran population, as of 2009 was approximately 723,368, with many of those veterans unaware of the many free services and programs that were available to them. Given the access to the services, and the reported expenditures in many of the service areas, it is clear not even half of the eligible veterans in the state claim the benefits they are due. The information provided below gives a brief overview of the many services that Michigan veterans are offered and information on how to access them.
Housing for Veterans in Michigan
According to the Michigan Department of Military & Veterans Affairs, of all the homeless individuals and families in the U.S., nearly one out of every ten homeless people in the U.S. is a veteran. Nearly every county in Michigan has a Veteran’s Affairs office, where benefits can be issued and applied for. One of the most underutilized programs is the Michigan Veterans Trust Fund, which is designed to help veterans and their families who are in need. The funding in this program is available to help wartime service veterans who may be facing difficulty with their housing. VA loans are utilized more often by veterans, but many MI veterans do not know that the VA loan can be used for more than simply purchasing a home. The money from a VA loan can be utilized to renovate, or adapt a home for a veteran who has a service related disability. Aging veterans often have their own set of unique housing needs. The state of Michigan has two veterans’ retirement homes that provide advanced and skilled nursing care. The Veterans Homes are located in Grand Rapids and Marquette. There are various eligibility rules and regulations, but the largest requirement is that veterans who were enlisted and began active duty on or after October of 1981, must have served at least 24 continuous months.
The Veterans Administration Supportive Housing (VASH) program along with the federal Housing and Urban Development office (HUD) work with low income veterans to secure proper housing. In most counties in the state of Michigan, homeless veterans, or those who may become homeless, are given preference for housing. Vouchers are issued to eligible veterans who can take the vouchers into the private sector in order to find an apartment or home. The local VA can establish an applicant’s eligibility for the program and estimate wait times.
Employment Benefits for Veterans in Michigan
Pure Michigan Talent Connect is a workforce exchange platform for the state. Through this job search site, veterans are offered a special Veterans’ Employment Service section. Veterans are offered priority of service, which allows veterans to receive consideration ahead of non-veterans. Spouses of veterans are also given this priority status. Michigan Works! is another job seeking board that offers preferential consideration to veterans and their families.
The Michigan Shifting Gears program is a transitional employment program for veterans who are transitioning from the military into the civilian work force. The Shifting Heroes Program is a part of this same benefits program, but works with veterans who are mid to late career talent and wish to transition into a new career.
Health Services for Michigan Veterans
A wide range of health-related services are offered to veterans, which go unused each year. The VA issues its own health care policies, which operates like traditional health care, offering a full range of comprehensive benefits. The benefits include mental health counseling, substance abuse treatment, doctor’s visits, inpatient and outpatient hospitalization care and more. Veterans are assigned to priority groups, once accepted into the program. These programs are based on the veteran’s particular circumstances, such as being exposed to a biological agent, being permanently injured and disabled as a result of service or being a former POW. The VA offers a free benefits explorer, and application for health services can be done online, in person, by mail or over the phone.
Education Services for Michigan Veterans
Veterans, or their family, who would like to go to school can do so using benefits from a number of well-recognized programs. The largest educational benefit program in the U.S. is the GI Bill, which pays for a large part of the tuition costs. The Marine Gunnery Sergeant John David Fry Scholarship is offered to the surviving children or spouse of a veteran who has died in the line of duty on or after September 11, 2001. The Children of Veterans Tuition Grant is also available to the children of deceased or disabled service members. Dependents must be between the ages of 16 and 26.