For the first time in its 75-year history, the Michigan Veterans Trust Fund (MVTF) will provide emergency assistance to eligible peacetime-era veterans 65 years and older under a new pilot program.
Similar to its Emergency Grant Program for wartime-era veterans, the MVTF's 65+ Peacetime Program allows veterans who served in a peacetime era, have at least 180 days of service and were discharged under honorable conditions to apply for emergency assistance.
The assistance helps veterans overcome unforeseen situations causing a temporary or short-term financial emergency or hardship that a grant will resolve and for which the applicant can demonstrate the ability to meet future expenses. Covered expenses under the 65+ Program include utility bills, home repairs and rent and mortgage assistance.
The MVTF was created by the state Legislature in 1946 to help wartime-era veterans with a $50 million corpus that has since grown to more than $72 million. The MVTF Board of Trustees have expanded Trust Fund services to veterans in recent years to offer financial counseling, food cards, career and entrepreneurial assistance and, now, emergency assistance for peacetime veterans.
Veterans interested in applying for the 65+ Peacetime Program should contact the MVTF county committee serving the county they reside in or fill out and submit the emergency assistance form available on the MVAA's website. Veterans can call 1-800-MICH-VET to be connected to their county veteran representative.
Read more about the new program at michigan.gov/MVAA.
Remembering Pearl Harbor, 80 years later
This week we recognize the 80th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor, where 2,403 service members and civilians lost their lives. The Japanese attack would injure another 1,178 people and permanently sink two US Navy battleships, the USS Arizona and USS Utah, and destroy 188 aircraft. President Franklin Roosevelt would address the nation calling it "a date which will live in infamy." The following day on Dec. 8, 1941, Roosevelt declared war against Japan.
In the years following the attack on Pearl Harbor, 613,543 Michiganders would answer the call to serve in the armed forces. Read Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's proclamation declaring Dec. 7 as Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day.
Here's how to connect with other veterans this holiday season
Holidays can be a difficult time for many veterans. The flurry of expectations many feel during holidays can cause stress or feelings of loneliness. This is especially true for veterans who may be separated from friends and family due to distance or COVID-19.
Many veterans also miss the camaraderie and kinship they felt during service. Or they may find it difficult to relate to those outside the military.
From volunteering to playing online games with newly met veterans, here are 12 things you can do to create a new community and connect with other veterans, according to VA's VAntage Point blog.
Veterans experiencing a mental health emergency can contact the Veteran Crisis Line at 1-800-273-8255 and select option 1 for a VA staffer. Veterans, troops or their family members can also text 838255 or visit VeteransCrisisLine.net for assistance.
Congrats to our November Student/Apprentice of the Month
Jordan Swears is one of the top students in his class at Western Michigan University Cooley Law School, earning a 3.96 GPA.
Faculty and staff at WMU-Cooley say Jordan is always willing to help other students with academics. He is also an associate editor for the Homeland & National Security Law Review and published an article on bail reform in the WMU Cooley Journal of Practical and Clinical Law.
Jordan Served as a Field Artillery Officer from 2008-2014 with the 41st Fire Brigade and 1st Cavalry Division at Fort Hood, Texas. He began his military career leading a small group of soldiers and worked his way up to become a battalion leader, developing and leading training programs. He was deployed as a NATO Training Instructor with the Afghan National Army in support of Operation Enduring Freedom from 2011-2012. Throughout his career, Jordan has mentored many soldiers.
For his academic and professional achievements, the MVAA congratulates Jordan for his selection as the Student/Apprentice Veteran of the Month for November 2021.
Learn more about the MVAA's Student/Apprentice of the Month initiative at Michigan.gov/MVAA.
Cool things to look for at Army-Navy football game
This Saturday, Dec. 11, marks the 122nd meeting of the US Military Academy and US Naval Academy football teams. This year, the Army Black Knights and the Navy Midshipmen will meet at New Jersey's MetLife Stadium for the first time.
Did you know the two institutions do a "prisoner exchange" before every game? A handful of West Point cadets and Annapolis midshipmen are chosen every year to spend a semester studying at their rival academy. Seven cadets and seven mids participate in the Service Academy Exchange Program. Before every Army-Navy Game since the program began in 1975, these 14 soon-to-be-officers are marched to midfield for the "Prisoner Exchange," which allows them to sit with their fellow fans during the game before heading home.
Read more about that tradition and other interesting things to watch for at this year's Army-Navy game from Military.com.
Watch the game at 3 p.m. ET Saturday on CBS.
VA Employee of the Year honored to serve those who served
This week we continue recognizing our first-ever round of award winners by profiling Tara Consolino, VA Employee of the Year, and Jill Hinton Wolfe, Educational Veteran Advocate of the Year. See all the recipients at Michigan.gov.mvaa.
Although Tara Consolino didn't serve in the Armed Forces, she grew up in a military family and has worked for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs for the past 14 years - currently as a Suicide Prevention Program Manager.
"Growing up with a Marine Corps father, and presently working with veterans, when I thank someone for their service, I am thanking them for the sacrifices they may have made when they enlisted, but also for the ignorance I am afforded as a civilian," Consolino says. "Ignorance meaning recognizing those hardships and unknown stressors that accompany a life in uniform. The strength, discipline, character and qualities that all individuals serving in the Armed Forces possess and the resiliency they personify ultimately reflects to me their selfless service in all aspects of their lives."
For her service to veterans, Consolino was named this year's VA Employee of the Year. Working in veteran suicide prevention with the Veterans Health Administration, an arm of the VA, she has been instrumental in the success of the Michigan Governor's Challenge to Prevent Suicide Among Service Members, Veterans and their Families.
"Tara truly encompasses all the values of the VHA and is a leader in her field," her nomination form says. "Regardless of what is needed or if it is outside of her scope of practice, she will assist with making the appropriate connections within the VA to ensure that our veterans are served at the highest quality possible. Tara is a leader, full of energy, presents innovative ideas, and is a true team player."
Consolino, of Farmington Hills, enjoys photography, running, hiking, yoga and writing. Her family includes husband Todd Peltier, daughter Cye Consolino, Chloe the dog and Elena, Coco and Big Larry the cats.
"I came to the VA fourteen years ago to fulfill the VA mission to serve those who served," she says. "This is an honor to receive this award recognizing the work that myself and our teams have been completing, supporting that mission. I am overwhelmed with gratitude to have been selected to receive this award and I am humbled, appreciative and invigorated to continue this work."
Army vet, GVSU staffer is Educational Advocate of the Year
In less than two years, Grand Valley State University has built a truly veteran-inclusive campus, experienced an increase in military-connected student enrollment and landed on several publications' "Best Colleges for Veterans" lists.
And Jill Hinton Wolfe is the driving force behind that success.
Wolfe, who served three years in the Army, became the university's first Military and Veteran Resource Manager in June 2020. In the short time since, the university has initiated a host of veteran-centric efforts including Veteran's Promise, which promises a spot at GVSU for high school graduates who enlist in the military.
"I started this position after losing my own business to COVID, and it would've been very easy to become cynical and despondent," Wolfe says. "But I applied for the position in the same spirit that I joined the military - seeking service and humility. I also needed to continue my own story of what it means to be a veteran. Every day these students inspire me to work harder, to laugh more often and to care not who gets the credit, only that somebody, somewhere, feels like they matter and becomes inspired to do the same thing for others. This is what got me out of my bunk when I was 19 years old in BDUs and still gets me out bed today."
Wolfe received several nominations for the Educational Veteran Advocate of the Year Award. Among the accolades from her colleagues, she was described as a "steadfast problem-solver, extraordinarily committed leader and community builder" and was praised for her "intellectual curiosity, strong work ethic, creativity and compassion."
The married mother of two children and three stepchildren lives in Grand Rapids and enjoys backpacking, books and writing. Of serving in the military, she says: "I grew up in a privileged household where I had everything handed to me, yet I never really felt necessary. The military gave me that feeling. Through my military service, I became necessary to protecting not just my fellow citizens, but to a whole new military family. They came from every small town, every big city, every skin color, every religion, both immigrants and born in the U.S. And they are still my family today, a family created out of both hardship and the knowledge that above all, we are necessary."