LANSING, Mich. – A $100,000 donation from Consumers Energy to the Michigan Veterans Trust Fund (MVTF) will help potentially hundreds of military veterans pay their heating bills in Michigan this winter.
The gift is the largest single donation in the 73-year history of the trust fund, which operates within the Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency (MVAA). Last year the fund assisted nearly 1,350 veterans and their dependents who were struggling financially, many who needed help with utility payments during the winter months.
“Consumers Energy is committed to our Triple Bottom Line of people, planet and prosperity for everyone that we serve. We feel it’s especially important to care for the men and women who donned the cloth of our nation and served in our armed forces,” said Brian Rich, Consumers Energy’s senior vice president of customer experience. “We are honored to make this donation as part of our mission to recruit, retain, support and care for our veteran community.”
Since its inception in 1946, the MVTF has granted more than $100 million to wartime-era veterans experiencing unforeseen financial hardship. Last fiscal year, the trust fund paid out nearly $175,000 in emergency utility payments for Michigan veterans and another $91,400 for energy-efficiency upgrades. The new funds will be available to eligible veterans who are Consumers Energy customers.
“Utilities assistance is one of our biggest needs, especially during the cold season, and this significant gift from Consumers Energy will benefit many of our veterans and their families during this critical period,” said Lindell Holm, director of the MVTF. “It will also allow the trust fund to focus some of its efforts on other critical needs, such as emergency rent assistance and home payments.”
The assistance can be particularly helpful to those on a fixed income. More than 53 percent of Michigan’s nearly 600,000 veterans are age 65 or older and about 18 percent receive disability compensation, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
The donation is also part of an ongoing collaboration between Consumers Energy and the MVAA. Consumers Energy is an active member of the MVAA’s Michigan Veteran Employment Council, is a Gold-level Veteran-Friendly Employer and earlier this year won the MVAA’s Rising Star Award for innovative efforts to recruit and retain veterans as employees.
Consumers Energy also has provided $10 million this winter to help Michigan residents with energy bills, including the assistance for military veterans.
“The nexus of this unique collaboration is our partnership in the Veteran-Friendly Employers program,” said David Dunckel, strategy specialist with the MVAA. “I don’t think there are many examples of a private-sector entity and a public-sector entity working together so closely to support our veterans.”
Veterans interested in finding out more about utility-bill assistance or other help through the MVTF’s Emergency Grant Program can contact the Michigan Veteran Resource Center at 800-MICH-VET.