LANSING, Mich. – The Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency marked its fifth anniversary on Tuesday, as the agency continues to serve as the central coordinating point, providing support, care, advocacy and customer service to the state’s veterans and their families.
Gov. Rick Snyder issued Executive Order 2013-2 on Jan. 18, 2013, creating the agency to help to better connect eligible veterans with the benefits they have earned through their military service.
“For five rewarding years, the hundreds of members within MVAA have come to work each day to serve those who have served us,” said MVAA Director James Robert Redford. “Today MVAA is a robust and growing state agency that is, more than ever, focused and determined to realize our vision of making Michigan the best place for veterans to live, raise a family, work and retire. Five years in, MVAA has much to be proud of, yet much to accomplish.”
Since its launch on March 20, 2013, MVAA has worked to make Michigan a better place for veterans to live and work, focusing on the areas of health care, employment, education and quality of life.
MVAA works hand-in-hand with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, other state and county agencies and community and veterans service organizations throughout the state. By building a comprehensive network of resources and service providers, MVAA and its partners ensure veterans receive the assistance they need through its ‘no wrong door’ policy.
Redford noted key achievements since the agency’s creation, including the Michigan Veteran Resource Service Center and the Michigan Veterans Community Action Teams both receiving Abraham Lincoln Pillars of Excellence Awards in 2016, and for the first time in memory, both the DJ Jacobetti and Grand Rapids veterans homes met or provisionally met all standards in the annual VA survey in 2017.
Today, veterans are receiving 55 percent more in Compensation and Pension Benefits from the VA than when the agency was established, and the percentage of Michigan veterans receiving those benefits is also up. Through the County Incentive Grant program, more veterans in more counties are being serviced today than on day one, with 60 more counselors in the field and 8 new county-level departments of veterans affairs. The 135 total counselors have distributed more than $600,000 to enhance or increase county veteran service provision.
Additional accomplishments include:
The Michigan Veterans’ Trust Fund helped 7,520 war era veterans with $8,224,618 to overcome temporary financial crises since 2013.
The Michigan Veterans Homeowners Assistance Program helped 805 veterans receive $4.8 million in grants to help stay in their home, recover from a foreclosure or complete necessary repairs to their homes between 2013 and 2016.
The award-winning MVRSC has resolved more than 60,000 cases to help veterans and family members connect with benefits and services.
The Veteran Friendly Employer program, which helps Michigan’s veterans identify job providers who value and want them and helps job providers develop internal processes and programs to support employees who are veterans and active military members and their families, has grown leaps and bounds. There are now 180 certified Veteran-Friendly Employers.
The Veteran Friendly School program has taken off, with 70 institutions now committed to supporting the needs of student veterans and dependents.
The Michigan Veterans Facility Authority was established to ensure a long-term solution to provide higher quality of care for Michigan's veterans through the construction of new veterans homes throughout the state, initially with one replacing the existing facility in Grand Rapids and a brand-new facility in southeast Michigan.
“From Detroit to Lansing to Grand Rapids and Marquette, MVAA has, through its dedicated staff and the support of our legislative partners and Governor Snyder, left an indelible mark in the lives of the 608,000 veterans who call our state home. It is an incredible privilege to serve our veterans, and I look forward to what we can accomplish together in the next five years and beyond.”