5 Michigan veterans laid to rest at Fort Custer National Cemetery
Five Michigan veterans were laid to rest in Augusta Nov. 10 with full military honors.
The Sparrow Health System tells Fox 17 their personnel conducted research on deceased veterans who had no familial connection or had families who were unable to afford burial services for their loved ones.
The service was held at Fort Custer National Cemetery, just outside Battle Creek.
"We make arrangements with the counties to provide a direct cremation and then the remains come back to the medical examiner's office and we're considered to be their sort of next of kin," says Michelle Fox, chief investigator of Sparrow's Office of Medical Examiner. "We identify those that are veterans and meet veteran criteria and we provide the service that we did today."
Read more about the veterans at Fox 17.
Congress could have almost 100 veterans by January
Close to 100 candidates with military service won or are winning their midterm elections and the results of these races could yield the largest influx of veterans voted into office on Capitol Hill in decades, according to some veteran advocates.
Congressional races in the House and Senate had 196 military veterans on ballots in the Nov. 8 election. As of Tuesday, 86 of those veterans have been projected to win their race, or they are leading in the few remaining races still undecided, according to Stars & Stripes.
With the 12 senators who have military service and were not up for re-election in 2022, the number of veterans in Congress could reach 98 in January. By comparison, there are 91 veterans in Congress now. That is a substantial increase, according to veteran advocates.
How the VFW is rebounding in Michigan
For years, Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) posts have been closing across Michigan, as membership in the organization dropped.
But today, the organization is making strides in Michigan to turn its image around and save itself from declining membership, WZZM is reporting.
The VFW helps veterans navigate VA assistance, holds scholarships, pushes veteran-related legislation, connects veterans to resources, offers support and more.
The VFW was a major supporter of the PACT Act, passed this year, noted Sarah Anderson, director of development and communications for the VFW of Michigan. The legislation expanded VA health care and benefits for those impacted by burn pits, Agent Orange and other toxic chemicals during service.
"The reason you newer veterans like me should join the VFW," Anderson said, "is because our voices matter. They listen, and they push it into law."
John Griffith, commander of the VFW in Michigan, promotes the idea of turning VFW posts into community hubs. He highlighted the post in Lakeview, which overcame debt and struggling membership through community events and new leadership.
"We've got a post up in Gaylord," added Griffith. "The members up there bought a bowling alley, revamped the bowling alley, and have their meetings in one of the rooms. They're taking the profits from the bowling alley they're saving and putting it into buying a new VFW post. They put movies on for the kids in the neighborhood."
Free food baskets, VA assistance available Saturday in Kalamazoo County
The MVAA is partnering with the Michigan Veterans Trust Fund, Harding's Friendly Markets, Southwest Michigan Behavioral Health and United Healthcare to host another Food4Vets event on Saturday, Nov. 19 from 1-3 p.m. at the Red Arrow VFW in Portage.
Free food baskets with turkeys and other Thanksgiving staples will be available to the first 150 veterans in attendance. Veterans must provide proof of veteran status.
Representatives from the Michigan Veterans Resource Service Center will be onsite to provide DD214s and other resources. Representatives from the VA will also be on site to offer opportunities for benefit enrollment.
VA secretary promises: 'We will be vets' best advocates'
In early 2021, when Denis McDonough was sworn in as the Veterans Affairs secretary, he promised to make the department more inclusive, more welcoming and more user-friendly for veterans.
Now, nearly two years later, McDonough says the VA is closer to those goals — but not there just yet.
"One priority is keeping the veteran at the center of all we're doing," he said in an interview with Military Times. "Are we building our programming and our support, our care and benefits into the veteran's life, or are we making the veteran fit into us? I'd say on that, things are changing, but there's still a long way to go."
McDonough said he expects to see significant progress soon in efforts to reduce homelessness and suicide among veterans, despite the complexity and long-term challenges of both issues.
Read the interview in the Military Times.
Veteran volunteers needed for Nov. 24 parade in Detroit
The Metropolitan Detroit Veterans Coalition is seeking veteran volunteers to carry a 100-foot American flag during the Detroit Thanksgiving Day Parade! The parade is Thursday, Nov. 24 from 9 a.m.-noon and begins at the intersection of Woodward and Kirby. Visit the coalition's website to learn more and sign up: https://mdvcmi.org/volunteer-today
VA resources help veterans transition to civilian life
The transition back to civilian life after serving in the military can be full of challenges. For veterans entering the workforce, reconnecting with their family, obtaining necessities and adjusting to a different pace and structure of life can bring many feelings, including anxiety and loneliness.
In a recent Facebook Live event, speakers from VA and the Army Wife Network highlighted some of VA Office of Connected Care's tools and resources available to support veterans and their families during this difficult transition.
The speakers encouraged veterans to seek out the following resources, all designed to ease the transition and help them form connections in the veteran community:
- Contact a VA liaison for health care through the VA Liaison Program before leaving the military. This program is embedded within 21 Department of Defense (DoD) installations and military treatment facilities. It's also available virtually for other military institutions …
Read the full story and learn about available resources in Veterans Affairs News.
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Veterans Day is Nov. 11
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 10, 2022
Contact: Ron Leix, Treasury, 517-335-2167
Veterans Day is Nov. 11
LANSING, Mich. – As Veterans Day approaches on Nov. 11, the state of Michigan extends its gratitude to current and former military members by reminding them of the special benefits they may be entitled to receive through the Michigan Department of Treasury.
Current and former military members may be eligible to receive:
- Military Pay Tax Exemption. Military pay is exempt from Michigan tax, including military retirement benefits and exit and separation pay.
- Children of Veterans Tuition Grant. This program provides undergraduate tuition assistance to the children of Michigan veterans who were totally and permanently disabled, missing in action or died while serving. Students may receive scholarship assistance for up to four academic years for a total of up to $11,200.
- Disabled Veterans Property Tax Exemption. A property tax exemption for real property used and owned as a homestead as outlined in state law.
- Principal Residence Exemption (PRE) for Active Duty Military Personnel. Property owners can retain a PRE while on active duty if their property is rented or leased.
- Property Tax Relief during Active Military Service. Property owned by a serviceperson cannot be sold to pay delinquent property taxes during a tour of active duty.
- Summer Property Tax Deferment. A serviceperson, veteran or widow or widower whose income outside of military compensation is no more than $7,500 per year may be eligible for a summer property tax deferment.
- Federal Military Spouses Residency Relief Act. The spouse of an individual in the military may not be subject to the state's taxation if they are a nonresident of the state, the service member is present in the state due to military orders, the spouse is solely in the state to accompany the service member, and the spouse maintains a domicile in another state. This act was amended in December 2018 to alternately allow military spouses to elect the same state of domicile as their service member spouse, even if they are not present in that state.
"The Michigan Department of Treasury will work closely with our military members past and present to ensure they get the tax benefits and other resources they deserve," State Treasurer Rachael Eubanks said. "If you have questions about any of these benefits, please contact us so we can talk about your options."
Individuals with questions about tax relief and other benefits for current and past military members should go to Michigan.gov/Treasury and click on "Contact." Program-specific phone numbers can be found on the "Contact" webpage.
In addition, State Treasurer Rachael Eubanks recently talked with Michigan Veteran Affairs Agency Director Zaneta Adams to learn about the benefits of a small business becoming a veteran-friendly employer. Individuals can listen to the discussion on the Treasury Talk: The Veteran-Friendly Employer Program and Your Small Business podcast.
# # #
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Wednesday, November 9, 2022
VA CFBNP Information Sharing: VA will prioritize delivering benefits to Veterans with cancer under PACT Act
VA CFBNP Information Sharing: VA will prioritize delivering benefits to Veterans with cancer under PACT Act
VA Center for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships (CFBNP) Information Sharing
VA will prioritize delivering benefits to Veterans with cancer under PACT Act
WASHINGTON — Today, on National Cancer Awareness Day, the Department of Veterans Affairs announced it will prioritize the processing of Veterans' benefits claims for cancers associated with the PACT Act. VA will expedite these claims to ensure Veterans with cancer are getting timely access to the care and benefits they need and deserve.
The PACT Act added presumptions of service connection for more than 20 new conditions, including various cancers. These presumptions help Veterans get their earned benefits by reducing the evidence necessary for VA to find that a condition was caused by burn pits or other toxic exposures. They also simplify the claims process by eliminating the need to establish a link between the Veteran's service and the claimed condition.
Since the PACT Act was signed into law August 10, Veterans have filed nearly 125,000 PACT Act-related claims. Of those claims, nearly 14,000 are for cancers covered by the PACT Act.
"We are working hard to get benefits to all Veterans who qualify under the PACT ACT as soon as possible, and Veterans living with cancer are at particular risk," said VA Secretary Denis McDonough. "Expediting claims for these Vets will ensure that they get the care and benefits they need and so rightly deserve."
This decision is a part of the Biden-Harris Administration's broader efforts to care for those with cancer and end cancer as we know it. In addition to prioritizing claims for Veterans with cancer, VA will continue to prioritize the processing of claims for Veterans with terminal illnesses and those experiencing homelessness.
VA will begin processing all PACT Act-related claims Jan 1, 2023. In anticipation of the surge in new claims, VA is hiring at 56 regional offices and 39 other special processing and call centers within the United States and Puerto Rico. Learn about the positions and how to apply.
For more information about PACT Act and how to file a claim, visit va.gov/PACT. If Veterans, their families, caregivers or survivors have questions about PACT Act and wish to speak with someone to help, they may call 1-800-MyVA411 at any time.
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