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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