Seventy-five years ago today, not long after the end of World War II, the Michigan Legislature officially established the Michigan Veterans Trust Fund (MVTF) with $50 million to support military veterans and their families.
Since that ceremonial beginning on Feb. 25, 1946, the Trust Fund has assisted some 643,000 eligible veterans and dependents with a total of $125 million in aid – and shows no signs of slowing down.
As one of the nation’s oldest veteran trust funds, the MVTF’s corpus has grown through careful investments to about $69 million and remains a cornerstone of the Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency (MVAA). Interest from the MVTF provides emergency grants to wartime-era veterans for things like mortgage and rent assistance, home repairs and heating bills.
“The Veterans Trust Fund has been a vital resource for generations of Michigan veterans and their families to make it through challenging financial times,” said Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. “Our servicemembers put their lives on the line to protect our freedoms, and we are dedicated to ensuring they have the support they need when they come home.”
The Veterans Trust Fund, administered by a gubernatorial-appointed Board of Trustees, falls under the auspices of the MVAA, the central coordinating agency for Michigan’s 552,000 veterans and their families.
MVAA Director Zaneta Adams said the Trust Fund’s success in supporting hundreds of thousands of veterans over the years reflects Michigan’s belief that those who serve our state and nation in the armed forces are considered members for life.
“Our commitment to these brave men and women starts the day they take their oath and continues after they’ve completed their service in all facets of their lives,” Adams said. “The MVTF assistance is another way we’re able to break down the barriers our veterans face and helps make Michigan a great place for veterans to live, work, play and retire.”
In addition to its main mission of providing direct emergency aid to eligible veterans and their families, the MTVF has also recently expanded its reach into other veteran-centric areas. This includes:
Offering veterans and their families access to free financial counseling through GreenPath Financial Wellness, a nonprofit counseling organization.
Partnering with Habitat for Humanity of Michigan with a goal of getting more house repairs completed for eligible veterans.
Donating $300,000 to help create Food4Vets, a program in collaboration with the MVAA to provide food assistance to eligible veterans and their families.
Donating $52,000 to Gleaners Community Food Bank in southeastern Michigan to support food insecurity programs for veterans.
Providing a grant to Heroes Haven to support the Michigan organization’s programs for veterans with PTSD and to expand programs to include women veterans.
Lindell Holm, Director of the Michigan Veterans Trust Fund since 2014, said the growth of the corpus in recent years and the declining veteran population compelled the MVTF Board to identify ways in its recent strategic plan to continue meeting the needs of the veteran community.
“Helping veterans facing emergency situations remains our top priority, but we recognize that a lot of things have changed since 1946,” Holm said. “As the veteran population and social demographics are changing, we are committed to keeping pace with those changes in a way that will advantage this generation and future generations of veterans.”
Applications for MVTF assistance are taken through the veteran’s local county veterans affairs office or by calling the MVAA’s 24/7 hotline at 1-800-MICH-VET. Locally approved grants of up to $3,500 are available to wartime-era veterans and spouses, un-remarried widow(er)s and minor children of eligible veterans who are experiencing an unforeseen, temporary financial emergency or hardship.
Marianne Darnell, whose late husband, Jackie, served for more than 20 years in the Army and Army Reserve, started experiencing plumbing problems in her Muskegon Heights home and couldn’t afford to fix them. She considered turning to the MVTF for help but was unsure of what type of response and customer service she would receive.
“After giving it a lot of thought, I did contact the Michigan Veterans Trust Fund,” Marianne says. “I completed the necessary paperwork, provided the information requested and within two weeks I received the assistance I requested. If you are a veteran or a veteran’s widow in need of emergency assistance, I would recommend you contact them. I cannot say enough about the assistance I received from the Michigan Veterans Trust Fund.”