It's National Volunteer Month. Learn more about our Buddy to Buddy initiative
April is National Volunteer Month, and the MVAA would like to recognize the amazing volunteer veteran mentors with the Buddy to Buddy Veteran Mentorship Initiative. Your dedication and hard work are unmatched and we are so thankful to have your help!
Buddy to Buddy offers one-on-one veteran mentorship to veterans of all eras and discharge types as well as those serving in the Michigan National Guard or Reserves who may not know where to find the resources they need or may be reluctant to ask for help. Volunteer veteran mentors, called "Buddies," are located throughout Michigan to help support a veteran's needs and to link them to benefits and resources ranging from financial to employment, and from education to health care. Buddies can also connect their fellow veterans to advocates, such as Veteran Navigators, who can help with mental health and substance abuse issues.
To begin the process to find resources in your area and to connect to the Buddy to Buddy program, call 1-800-MICH-VET (1-800-642-4838). If you are a veteran interested in becoming a mentor for other veterans in your area, please complete the Buddy to Buddy mentor application. A monthly information session about becoming a mentor is available. To request to join this session, email MVAA-B2B@michigan.gov.
VA life insurance available to service-disabled veterans
VA life insurance is a benefit that can protect your loved ones with income replacement, end of life costs and financial flexibility. While it's not always pleasant to think about how you will prepare for your family's well-being after you're gone, if you are injured or ill because of your service-connected disability, obtaining life insurance is a vital process. VA offers life insurance options to meet your unique needs as a veteran.
You are eligible for VA life insurance if all of following are true:
- You were released from active duty under other than dishonorable conditions on or after April 25, 1951.
- You are rated for a service-connected disability (even if only 0%).
- You are in good health except for any service-connected conditions.
- You apply within two years of the date VA notifies you of your grant of a new service-connected disability, or by Dec. 31, 2022, whichever comes first.
Learn more at the VA's Vantage Point blog.
Tickets available for first Michigan Women Veterans Conference
Registration is now open for the MVAA's first-ever Michigan Women Veterans Conference.
Join us June 10-11 at the Lansing Center to celebrate the 43,000+ women veterans in Michigan and learn about advocacy for yourself and your community.
The conference is meant to build friendships and sisterhood and teach you how to get connected to the benefits you have earned and deserve. At this conference you'll learn:
- How to advocate for your mental and physical health.
- How to advocate for others by learning how to run for office in your local community or apply for a commission or board.
- How to advocate for yourself in your job and get that raise or promotion.
The registration fee of $60 includes a full day of dynamic and educational content and breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks on June 10, attendance at all activities, plenty of networking opportunities and more. Hotel and other costs are not included.
Learn more and buy your tickets on Eventbrite.
Michigan veterans raise money for Ukrainian fighters
Ukrainian resistance fighters are not just battling Russian troops, they are also facing major supply issues.
Ukrainian Americans and Michigan veterans are working to get basic supplies, from bandages to helmets, to soldiers overseas, according to WLNS 6 News.
"They don't have the simple means to protect themselves," said Sergey Zelenskiy, a Ukrainian-American leading the equipment fundraiser.
Zelenskiy came to the United States in the 1990s but his mother is still in Ukraine. As the war continues, he keeps close contact with friends in the resistance and heard about what little equipment they have. Zelenskiy turned to an old friend, retired Major General Gregory Vadnais of the Michigan National Guard, for help.
The mission became personal for Vadnais after watching a region he knows well turn into ash.
"These families are torn apart, these civilians are attacked," Vadnais said. "These non–military targets attacked by the Russians – it just puts a lump in your throat and it does mine."
MVAA certifies Oaklawn Hospital as one of first Michigan Veteran Connector institutions
The Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency has designated Oaklawn Hospital in Marshall as one of the first official Michigan Veteran Connector institutions for its role in serving military veterans.
The MVAA's new Michigan Veteran Connector initiative identifies and cultivates community partnerships to simultaneously broaden referral capabilities for Michigan veterans and connect them to the best possible resources regardless of the area in which they reside.
The initiative is part of the SAMHSA Governor's Challenge, which looks at ways reduce suicide in our service members, veterans and their families. Health care facilities like Oaklawn can help by asking 'Have you served?' during intake or admissions and then starting the referral process as appropriate, noted Zaneta Adams, MVAA director and chair of the Michigan Governor's Challenge team.
"Based on our work through the Governor's Challenge program, we know that the sooner we identify and connect our Michigan veterans to services and resources, the statistically lower the risk for self-harming behaviors including suicide," Adams said.
To learn more about the Michigan Veteran Connector initiative, email firstname.lastname@example.org. Veterans who need assistance or want to explore if they are fully participating in all their earned benefits can call 1-800-MICH-VET (1-800-642-4838) or visit www.michigan.gov/mvaa.
VA initiative to improve reintegration for formerly incarcerated veterans
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has introduced new efforts to improve interagency coordination and expand outreach to criminal justice partners, to better help those reentering into society after incarceration.
In conjunction with a presidential proclamation designating April as Second Chance Month, the initiative is part of the Biden-Harris administration's goal to provide meaningful redemption and rehabilitation for formerly imprisoned persons.
In partnership with the Social Security Administration and Bureau of Prisons, the Veterans Benefits Administration is working diligently to streamline information-sharing processes among these three agencies to ensure VBA receives prison release dates for veterans within 30 days after release to improve timeliness to reinstate benefits as applicable.
Currently, veterans bear the administrative burden of restoring benefits post-incarceration. Once released, a veteran notifies VA, the department then must obtain verification of prison release dates from corrections facilities. This multi-step process causes a delay in the restoration of a wide range of health, rehabilitation and subsistence benefits for veterans. It also hinders their successful and full reintegration into our communities. Through collaborative information-sharing, VBA will ensure the load is on the agency, not the veteran.
Read more in Vantage Point.
IF YOU OR A LOVED ONE
ARE IN CRISIS:
The Veterans Crisis Line is staffed by caring, qualified crisis responders who are there to help. Many of these responders are veterans themselves.
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