Director Hollier: 'Honoring the promises we made'
EDITOR'S NOTE: This is the first in a series of videos and stories featuring Adam Hollier, the new director of the Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency (MVAA). Watch the video here.
After 10 years of serving veterans, the Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency (MVAA) will strive to do an even better job of supporting those who have chosen country over self, the new director of the state agency says.
Director Adam Hollier, appointed to the position by Gov. Whitmer starting Jan. 1, said he's excited about the opportunity to serve his fellow veterans and service members. Hollier is a paratrooper and a captain in the Army Reserve.
"No part of this country has done a good enough job of honoring the people who serve us," said Hollier, a former state senator from Detroit. "And so now is the opportunity to do that."
Among his priorities: addressing veteran suicide and homelessness.
"We're going to make sure that veterans in the state of Michigan no longer feel like suicide is the right option," he said. "We've got a lot to do in this state and in this country to make sure we honor the promises we made, which is that veterans have housing, preferential employment opportunities, medical coverage" and other benefits.
"I'm excited about being able to do that and grateful for the opportunity that Governor Whitmer gave me to serve in this role," Hollier said.
Established in 2013, the MVAA is the state's central coordinating point for Michigan's more than 550,000 veterans and their families. Call us at 1-800-MICH-VET (1-800-642-4838) to get connected to the benefits you earned. All of our services are confidential and complimentary.
New VFW initiative to safeguard toxic-exposed veterans
The VFW has launched a PACT Act Info initiative, an effort to educate toxic-exposed veterans on the expansion of benefits brought on by the passage of the PACT Act and streamline trusted access to securing those benefits.
Since the historic Sergeant First Class Heath Robinson Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics (PACT) Act of 2022 was signed into law last August, an onslaught of phone, email and social media scams have targeted veterans with the promise of help accessing PACT Act benefits, but for a fee.
PACT Act Info is the VFW's latest effort to safeguard veterans, offering a tool to quickly and easily determine benefits eligibility and streamlining direct referrals to VFW Accredited Service Officers who provide free, expert assistance in filing for VA benefits.
Read more at VFW.
Law expands VA program for veterans to buy modified vehicles
Under a new law signed by President Biden this month, veterans who need modified vehicles to get around will be eligible for an automobile grant from the VA every 10 years.
Previously, the VA would only allow one purchase across a veterans' lifetime.
Retired Army Chief Warrant Officer Neal Williams has owned several vehicles in the last 25 years that were modified to accommodate his wheelchair and let him drive with hand controls. For his first vehicle, Williams, who is paralyzed as the result of a combat injury in Vietnam, used a one-time grant from the VA and drove it more than 250,000 miles, until it fell apart.
"I've worn out several vehicles. This legislation allows veterans with mobility issues to be able to get their medical care and go about their normal daily routines that they otherwise wouldn't be able to on their own," Williams said in an interview with Military.com from his home in rural Maine.
Read the full story in Military.com.
Learn more about VA automobile allowance and adaptive equipment.
Calls to veteran suicide hotline spiked over New Year's
The number of calls from veterans and their family members to the Veterans Affairs suicide prevention hotline spiked over the New Year's holiday, news that department officials are saying shows increase awareness and accessibility of the emergency service, Military Times is reporting.
Over the two-day weekend, the Veterans Crisis Line fielded 3,869 calls, up almost 19% from typical weekend levels so far this fiscal year, according to data released by department officials.
Compared to the New Year's Eve 2021 and New Year's Day 2022, the call volume each day was up almost 30%. Chat interactions were up 25% from a year ago, and text conversations with crisis line operators were up 75% from the previous New Year's holiday.
If you're a veteran in crisis or concerned about one, call the Veterans Crisis Line at 988 and press 1; text 838255; or chat online confidentially at www.veteranscrisisline.net.
Ford becomes latest Gold-level Veteran-Friendly Employer
Ford Motor Company has become just the 23rd employer in Michigan to be certified as a Gold-level Veteran-Friendly Employer (VFE) through the Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency.
The prestigious Gold designation has been granted to just 4.2% of the more than 540 VFEs across the state for their commitment to recruiting, training and retaining veterans and National Guard and Reserve members.
Ford employs some 6,000 veterans and supports them with its Veteran Network Group, an employee resource group that focuses on the company's mission of helping current and former service members. This group provides holistic support programs to help veterans return to civilian life or continue to build their careers after their time in the military is up.
Read the full story at michigan.gov/MVAA.
Learn more about Ford's veteran programs, including open positions.
Judges skeptical that employer required to allow veteran's service dog
A U.S. appeals court panel on Tuesday seemed hesitant to revive a Union Pacific Railroad engineer's claim that he should be able to bring his service dog to work to prevent migraines and anxiety caused by his military service.
Judges on an 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals panel in St. Louis expressed concerns that a ruling in favor of the engineer, Perry Hopman, could open employers up to a flood of lawsuits claiming they violated federal law by denying accommodations that would mitigate symptoms of workers' disabilities.
Hopman, a former combat flight medic who served in Iraq and Kosovo, says he developed a traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress disorder from his service that interfered with his ability to work.
Union Pacific in 2016 denied his request to bring his Rottweiler to work, citing potential safety hazards. Hopman in a 2018 lawsuit said the presence of the dog, which had been trained as a service animal, helped prevent his migraines and anxiety.
A jury in 2021 sided with Hopman, but a federal judge in Little Rock, Arkansas last year tossed out the verdict and dismissed the case.
Read the full story in Reuters.
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