Editor's note: Our newsletter takes on a new look
This issue marks the beginning of a new look for our weekly newsletter. Now called "Michigan Veterans News," the newsletter will contain the same news and resources relevant to veterans of all eras and backgrounds. Thank you for reading – and remember, the MVAA is here to connect you and your family to all the benefits and resources you earned for your service. Visit us at Michigan.gov/MVAA or call 1-800-MICH-VET (1-800-642-4838).
Veterans' caregivers voice concerns over VA changes
The 36-year-old Afghanistan war veteran can't be left alone with his kids because his hallucinations and outbursts make him a danger to himself and others. He must be handed his medications, or he'll forget to take them. He doesn't drive or work. Or manage his finances, having once spent thousands of dollars in a wild shopping spree while experiencing mania.
Still, the former Army sergeant has not been hospitalized for mental health issues in nearly five years -- an achievement he and his wife attribute to her providing around-the-clock care for him, supported by the Department of Veterans Affairs' Program of Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers.
In addition to providing health care coverage and community support, the program pays the veteran a stipend that allows the wife to care for him instead of hiring a home health aide. But in the past month, the couple learned they no longer qualify for the benefit.
They are not alone. With the VA conducting reviews to ensure that participants meet new eligibility requirements introduced last year, as many as 6,000 people may find out this month they no longer will receive the caretaker support some have relied upon for years as they manage the residual wounds of war that continue to shape their lives, according to Military.com.
VA officials say the new eligibility rules were introduced to comply with a 2018 law that expanded the program to severely injured veterans of previous wars whose loved ones have cared for them for years without any compensation. By changing the eligibility requirements while expanding the groups of veterans who could apply, the idea was that veterans from past conflicts could get the help they needed without radically increasing the cost of the program.
But current enrollees and advocates believe it is unfair that legacy participants must meet the new criteria. And, they say, the review process has been inconsistent and fraught with error. They charge that the reviewers have largely ignored the needs of those with traumatic brain injuries and mental health issues -- the "invisible wounds" of war.
Today, military advocates will be focused on the Senate Veterans' Affairs hearing on caregiver support efforts, after significant criticism of plans to scale back stipends for families of injured veterans, according to Military Times.
At issue are thousands of dollars a month in support stipends for veterans too injured to live on their own but healthy enough to avoid institutionalization.
State holds free career-readiness workshop for veterans
Veterans seeking help in furthering their careers can register now for an employment readiness workshop at 11 a.m. April 5 through a partnership between Michigan Veterans' Employment Services and Michigan National Guard Family Programs.
This free, one-hour workshop will focus on interviews, the impact social media can have on one's career, how to dress for success and creating a professional email and voice mail.
For more information and resources, visit Michigan's Employment Readiness Series website.
Study finds ongoing mental health concerns for Vietnam veterans
Veterans who served in Vietnam, Cambodia, or Laos during the Vietnam War have a higher prevalence of mental health issues, particularly PTSD, compared with both other Vietnam-era veterans and non-veterans, according to an analysis of the Vietnam Era Health Retrospective Observational Study.
It's the first nationwide survey of both the physical and mental health of Vietnam War veterans in more than 30 years. It sought survey data from more than 45,000 Vietnam-era veterans, as well as 11,000 matched controls. Data collection was completed in 2016 and 2017; nearly 19,000 veterans responded.
Compared with non-theater veterans, Vietnam-theater veterans had four times the risk of PTSD, nearly double the risk for depression and more than two times the risk of psychological distress. Compared with non-veterans, they had more than nine times the risk of PTSD, more than double the risk for depression and nearly six times the risk of psychological distress.
Read more at the VA's Office of Research & Development.
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.
Elks donate $11,420 to Marquette veterans home
The Michigan Elks Association has donated $11,420 to the Michigan Veteran Homes D.J. Jacobetti campus in Marquette.
The donation will fund a new exercise machine to expand physical therapy and new interactive stations for the memory care unit.
Read more at Radio Results Network. Michigan Veteran Homes (MVH) operates homes in Marquette, Grand Rapids and Chesterfield Township in Macomb County. To donate, visit Michigan Veteran Homes – Support.
Veterans speak out on recommendation to move Battle Creek VA services
It may become more difficult for West Michigan veterans to get the care they need, according to WWMT News Channel 3.
A recommendation from the U.S Department of Veterans Affairs to the Asset and Infrastructure Review Commission suggested a series of changes including relocating Battle Creek Veterans Affairs services out of Battle Creek.
The recommendation laid out a plan that could move inpatient, outpatient and mental health services from Battle Creek closer to the Grand Rapids area.
"Many veterans actually have moved here just because of the VA being here," said Dave Morgan, a U.S. Air Force veteran.
Morgan is also the chairman of the Calhoun County Red White Blue Foundation. He said he receives great care at the Battle Creek VA and hopes the facility can stay put.
The Battle Creek VA's public affairs officer said this recommendation comes from the need for updated modern medical facilities.
Veterans group helps Ukraine evacuations amid war
U.S. veterans are doing their part to ensure that families and children caught in Ukraine and other war zones are evacuated safely, according to Fox News.
One veterans' group, Tampa-based Project Dynamo, has rescued hundreds of American citizens from Ukraine and Afghanistan.
"We've had great-grandmas to 2-week-olds, mothers, fathers ... we've evacuated people with some special needs issues, or really elderly people who have a hard time moving," Bryan Stern, a co-founder of Project Dynamo, said. "There's hundreds and hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of stories … just some of them are complete and total nightmares."
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