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New MVAA ad campaign urges veterans to ‘go back’ and review benefit eligibility

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Vietnam veteran, wife share their story in new commercial

LANSING, Mich. - Like many Vietnam vets, coming home wasn’t easy for Air Force veteran Bill Arvo.

He returned home to public distain and suffering from skin issues he later discovered were due Agent Orange exposure.

“I had cysts all over my arms and they just gave me some cream,” he said “It was kind of disheartening to go to the VA back then. It really left a bad taste in my mouth.”

Bill and Michelle Arvo look at photos from VietnamHe avoided VA health care for about 40 years until he developed heart problems and his wife, Michelle, urged him to reconsider.

“My wife said I should think about going back to the VA, that there might be some benefits that I was eligible for now,” he said. “I went back and received a 30 percent disability rating. Thanks to her determination I now have a primary care doctor at the VA who really cares about veterans and their wellbeing.”

The Arvos are now urging other veterans to review their benefit eligibility in the Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency new ad campaign. The Southeast Michigan couple is featured in television, radio, cable and digital ads that hit the airwaves this month.

The commercial is a continuation of MVAA’s campaign to alert veterans that the agency is available 24/7/365 to help connect veterans of all eras to the benefits they have earned through their service. MVAA is a state agency that partners with the VA, state and local government and numerous veteran service organizations to provide assistance to veterans.

“New research and medical advances have contributed to numerous changes in benefits eligibility for Vietnam-era veterans in the last 15 years,” said MVAA Director James Robert Redford. “Veterans who haven't looked back to the VA in a number of years could be missing out on valuable benefits.”

Veterans can be connected to state and federal benefits as well as local resources by calling 800-MICH-VET (800-642-4838) or visiting MichiganVeterans.com.

“It’s been a long time coming to be recognized and I know some have given up,” Arvo said. “But I’m really glad I went back.”

PHOTO CAPTION: Bill and Michelle Arvo look through his photos from Vietnam. Arvo was a sergeant with the U.S. Air Force’s 554th Red Horse Squadron, 1968-1969. Before deployment to Vietnam, he was trained at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida to build support bases and run convoys to deliver building materials and supplies under combat situations. He was awarded the Air Force Commendation Medal for his service.