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‘Listening Sessions’ to support Michigan veterans

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Image of Branch of Service flagsAiming to get more of Michigan’s nearly 600,000 military veterans connected to the benefits and services they may have earned for their service, the Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency will host a series of Veterans Listening Sessions across the state this fall.

The 13 sessions, starting in Kalamazoo Oct. 25 and ending in Saginaw Nov. 19, are an opportunity for veterans to have their voices heard and to get questions answered on topics such as state tuition assistance and eligibility for federal health and compensation benefits.

Only 18 percent of Michigan veterans receive disability compensation benefits from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, which is lower than the national average of 23 percent. In addition, only 39 percent of Michigan veterans are enrolled in VA health care, which is lower than the national average of 46 percent.

MVAA Director Zaneta Adams, who was appointed to the position by Gov. Whitmer in June, said those numbers are far too low. As the state coordinating agency for veterans and their families, the MVAA is striving to make Michigan one of the top states in the nation for veteran support.

“We’re embarking on an aggressive outreach campaign designed to reach every veteran in the state and get them familiar with who we are and what we can do for them,” said Adams, a disabled Army veteran and attorney who has spent much of her professional career fighting for veterans’ rights. “Through our ‘no wrong door’ customer service model, we will then identify and break down barriers veterans face in employment, education, health care and quality of life, and ultimately make Michigan the place veterans choose to live, raise a family, work and retire.”

Adams and other experts on veterans affairs will be available at the sessions to listen to veterans’ concerns and answer questions. MVAA resources will be available at each session and local Veteran Service Officers will be on hand to set up one-on-one appointments with veterans. The sessions are free and open to veterans and the public.

Veterans with questions can call the MVAA’s 24/7/365 hotline at 1-800-MICH-VET or visit MichiganVeterans.com.

Here is the schedule for the listening sessions, with location if available. For updates, visit MichiganVeterans.com or call Andy Henion, MVAA PR Manager, at (517) 284-5228:

Friday, Oct. 25
Kalamazoo Central Library, 315 S. Rose St., Kalamazoo at 10 a.m.
Benton Harbor Public Library, 213 E. Wall St., Benton Harbor at 3 p.m.

Tuesday, Oct. 29
Mills Community House/Benzonia Library, 891 Michigan Ave., Benzonia at 3:30 p.m.

Wednesday, Oct. 30
Salvation Army Kroc Community Center, 2500 Division Ave. S., Grand Rapids at 5 p.m.

Wednesday, Nov. 6
American Legion Post 153, E. 110 Walker St., St. Johns at 2 p.m.

Friday, Nov. 8
DetroitTime and location to be determined.

Tuesday, Nov. 12
Greater Muskegon Woman’s Club, 280 W. Webster Ave., Muskegon at 10 a.m.

Thursday, Nov. 14
American Legion Post 200, 11800 Michael St., Taylor at 10:30 a.m.
Village Stinson VFW Post 9021, 32100 Ryan Road, Warren at 2:30 p.m.
Bloomfield Township Library, 1099 Lone Pine Road, Bloomfield Township at 5:30 p.m.

Tuesday, Nov. 19
Eastern Michigan University – 401 Pierce Hall in the Media Room. Directly across from the Pease pay parking lot.  
Ypsilanti at 10 a.m. 
Flint Public Library, 1026 E. Kearsley St., Flint at 2 p.m.
American Legion Post 22, 2200 S. Niagara St., Saginaw – at 4:30 p.m.