Tuesday, October 24, 2023

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Michigan Law Ensured Surviving Spouses Can Keep Property Tax Exemptions

Michigan Veterans News

Early November events celebrate Michigan veterans

As Veterans Day approaches, we are inviting Michigan veterans and their families to a formal gala in Novi on Nov. 4 and a veterans recognition ceremony at the Capitol in Lansing on Nov. 9. Here are more details:

Michigan Military & Veterans Gala

Gala tickets

Here's a great opportunity for veterans and their significant others to enjoy a formal night of dinner, drinks and dancing!

The third annual Gala will take place at the Suburban Collection Showplace, 46100 Grand River Ave. in Novi. The event starts with an evening social at 6 p.m., followed by an awards presentation at 8 p.m. and a post-awards celebration at 9 p.m.

Tickets are $60 apiece and available online at the National Guard Association of Michigan's website. The deadline to purchase tickets is Thursday, Oct. 26.

See photos of last year's Gala at the Michigan National Guard's Flickr site.


Michigan Veterans Day Recognition Ceremony

Veterans Recognition Ceremony 2022

Michigan Veterans Day Recognition Ceremony, November 2022, in the state Capitol.

The Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency will officially honor Michigan veterans for Veterans Day with a ceremony at the state Capitol on Thursday, Nov. 9.

The Michigan Veterans Day Recognition Ceremony will take place from 9:30-10 a.m. in State Room North of Heritage Hall at the Capitol.

The event is free and open to veterans and veteran advocates. More details are forthcoming, including scheduled speakers. We are excited to gather with our fellow veterans and recognize our collective service to this great nation!

Military transition classes improving, but attendance still lags

Military transition class

A VA benefits advisor briefs students during a Transition Assistance Program class. (Photo: Air Force)

More service members are attending military-to-civilian transition classes than ever before, but thousands are still falling through gaps in the separation process and missing out on help needed to successfully start their lives as veterans, advocates and lawmakers are warning.

Of particular concern are the large numbers of separating troops who are missing mandatory two-day transition classes. In a recent report, officials from the Government Accountability Office found that the requirement was waived for more than half of all service members—and nearly one-fourth of those troops were considered at risk for transition problems.

That translated last year into nearly 11,000 military members—many of them enlisted—leaving the ranks without clear employment plans or a handle on what support resources are available.

Read the full story in Military Times.

MVAA's free WhyMI app offers real-time job board and more

WhyMI app

Veterans who are transitioning to Michigan, as well as veterans and their families who already live in the state, can benefit from the Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency's WhyMI app. This free app, available through Google Play or the Apple App Store, provides a real-time job board for veterans categorized by region, employers and job categories, along with information on VA benefits and health care, housing, education and other resources for veterans.

Michigan law ensures surviving spouses of disabled veterans can keep property tax exemptions

Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed legislation recently that benefits disabled veterans and their families by amending the General Property Tax Act.

The package of bills ensures that spouses of disabled veterans can maintain property tax exemptions, even after their spouse passes away. In addition, a disabled veteran or their surviving spouse only needs to file an application for the Disabled Veterans Property Tax Exemption once, rather than refiling every year.

Here are more details on the three-bill package:

VA resources for veterans with disabilities or children with Spina Bifida

Disabled veteran

The month of October is particularly meaningful to the VA's Veteran Readiness and Employment (VR&E) Service, as it is both National Disability Employment Awareness Month and Spina Bifida Awareness Month.

VR&E helps eligible service members and veterans with service-connected disabilities obtain suitable employment and achieve independence in daily living to the maximum possible extent. VR&E offers five tracks: reemployment, rapid access to employment, self-employment, employment through long-term services and independent living.

VR&E also helps eligible dependent children with spina bifida through the Benefits for Certain Children with Disabilities Born of Vietnam and Certain Korea Service Veterans (Chapter 18) program. This program enables individuals to gain the skills necessary to achieve their career goals and succeed.

Learn more about both programs at VA News.

How did Veterans Day get started?

Veterans Day

Veterans Day got its start seven months before the official end of World War 1 when an armistice between the Allied nations and Germany went into effect on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month.

For that reason, Nov. 11, 1918, is generally regarded as the end of "the way to end all wars." Veterans Day continues to be observed on Nov. 11, regardless of the day of the week on which it falls. This year, Veterans Day is on a Saturday.

President Wilson proclaimed Nov. 11 on November 1919 as the first commemoration of Armistice Day, which almost 45 years later would be renamed from "Armistice Day" to "Veterans Day." After World War II, and the Korean War, Veterans Service Organizations advocated Congress to broaden the scope of honoring veterans. With the approval of this legislation (Public Law 380) on June 1, 1954, Nov. 11 became a day to honor American veterans of all wars.

On June 28, 1968, the Uniform Holiday Bill went into effect, ensuring three-day weekends for federal employees by celebrating four national holidays on Mondays: Washington's Birthday, Memorial Day, Veterans Day and Columbus Day. This meant that Veterans Day would no longer be celebrated exclusively on Nov. 11.

The first Veterans Day under the new law was observed with much confusion on Oct. 25, 1971. It was quite apparent that the commemoration of this day was a matter of historic and patriotic significance to a great number of U.S. citizens. On Sept. 20, 1975, Public Law 94-97 was signed by President Gerald Ford, returning the annual observance of Veterans Day to its original date of Nov. 11, beginning in 1978.  

Learn more about the history of Veterans Day and its historical significance VA News.

Veterans Crisis Line: Dial 988 then Press 1


The Veterans Crisis Line is staffed by caring, qualified crisis responders who are there to help. Many of these responders are veterans themselves.

Online Resources



Call 1-800-MICH-VET


Visit Michigan.gov/MVAA

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Sunday, October 22, 2023

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Air Force To Review Thousands of Discharges For Traumatic Brain Injury and PTSDRe: Michigan Veterans News & Resources for Oct. 3, 2023

Michigan Veterans News

How the MVAA and our partners are supporting veteran employment

Adam Hollier at VFE Conference 23

MVAA Director Adam Hollier discusses the benefits of hiring veterans at the Veteran-Friendly Employers Innovation Conference in Traverse City.

Our third annual Veteran-Friendly Employers (VFE) conference brought together more than 75 business leaders and veteran stakeholders with a vested interest in hiring and retaining veteran talent.

The event, held Sept. 26-27 in Traverse City, featured sessions on how to hire veterans right now, employing veterans with different abilities and more.

Employers can learn more about the Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency's VFE program and other resources for hiring veterans on our employer's webpage.

Veterans seeking help with employment, entrepreneurship, licensing and credentialing and other job-related resources can visit our veteran employment page or call 1-800-MICH-VET to be connected to the appropriate resources.

Here is a sampling of coverage and resources from the MVAA Veteran-Friendly Employers Innovation Conference '23 ...

How our Gold-level employers go above and beyond

Kerrie Kornexl, Atlas

Kerrie Kornexl (center), of Atlas Space Operations, talks about hiring veterans. At left is Emily Rissman of the Michigan Department of Corrections; at right is Melvin Durnell of the Michigan Department of Transportation.

Atlas Space Operations, Gold-level Veteran-Friendly Employer, Traverse City

Last summer, Kerrie Kornexl, community outreach coordinator for Atlas Space Operations, got a resume from a young Marine Corps veteran that piqued her interest.

"It was clear from his email that he was exactly the kind of person we wanted on our staff," Kornexl said.

Unfortunately, she added, "his resume was just garbage."

So Kornexl, an Air Force veteran, wrote him back, suggesting he give it another shot and pointing him to some resume-building websites, including the Purdue Online Writing Lab's. The next morning, a revised resume was sitting in her inbox—much better, she said, but still needing a lot of work.

Kornexl went to her supervisor. While she was supposed to be looking at government contracts for Atlas to bid on, she knew this "22-year-old young man was worth my time." Her boss agreed, and Kornexl would spend the next several days meticulously helping the veteran improve his resume, cover letter and overall presentation.

After a week, the veteran formally re-applied for the job, this time with a superb resume, but in the end, it didn't work out because he couldn't afford housing in Traverse City. But Kornexl pointed him to openings with other companies and helped him land a job after all—a great example of one veteran helping another.

"I did all of this while I was not doing the job that made money for Atlas, and I had the full support of my supervisor," said Kornexl, who notes that three of Atlas' four founders are Air Force veterans. "I think that sort of support from the top all the way down is really remarkable."

Learn more about working at Atlas Space Operations, which supplies high-tech communications to the aerospace industry.

John Gardner, Roush

John Gardner of Roush Industries says he strives to get veterans promoted from within the company. Gardner is an Air Force veteran.

Roush Industries, Gold-level Veteran-Friendly Employer, Metro Detroit

When a leadership position came open at Roush Industries, John Gardner, the company's manager for veteran initiatives, knew just the veteran for it. This particular veteran had worked at Roush for seven years and definitely had the skillset to move up.

But he was satisfied with his job and hesitant to apply. Gardner, who had gotten to know the veteran through the company's Veteran Employee Resources Group (ERG), talked to him about the benefits. The job included more pay and was located at a Roush location much closer to the veteran's home. He was then driving an hour to work each way.

So the veteran went for the job—and got it, Gardner said, adding that it came with a $40,000 raise. "And he is very, very happy, as you can imagine," Gardner said. Not only that, but Gardner was able to hire another ex-service member from outside the company to fill the veteran's former position.

"So it was really two for one," he said. "Basically, we hired two veterans."

Gardner, an Air Force veteran, said he loves recruiting from within the company. "When I see leadership opportunities," he said, "I'm reaching out to our veterans through the ERG group to tell them about these opportunities. To let them know they can do more than they're doing now."

Roush Industries provides engineering, testing, prototyping and manufacturing services to the automotive, aerospace, defense and theme park industries. Learn more about the Roush VIP (Veterans Initiative Program).

Employment resources for veterans, transitioning service members, spouses and employers

VFE panel

From left, Sam Dougherty of Helmets to Hardhats-Michigan, Don Wright of Rocket Companies, Bob Hogan of Bridge My Return and Pat Muoio of Veterans' Employment Services.

Helmets to Hardhats - Michigan.
Veterans interested in a construction career or skilled-trades training and registered apprenticeships can look to Helmets to Hardhats, a nonprofit organization with a growing Michigan presence. Apprenticeships come at no cost to the veteran and they can use Montgomery G.I. Bill benefits to supplement their income. Sam Dougherty, the organization's Michigan representative, noted that employers can post job openings for free at helmettohardhats.org.  

SkillBridge. The U.S. Department of Defense's SkillBridge program gives service members an opportunity to gain civilian work experience through specific industry training, apprenticeships or internships during the last 180 days of service. SkillBridge connects transitioning service members with industry partners in real-world job experiences. Don Wright of Rocket Companies said SkillBridge "is one the best ways we can attract transitioning veterans into our companies right now." Wright also noted that the SkillBridge team is small, so employers looking to register with the program need to be persistent. Wright is senior talent relationship manager for Rocket's Veteran Hiring Program.

Job Accommodation Network (JAN).  A service of the U.S. Department of Labor, JAN provides free, one-on-one practical guidance and technical assistance on job accommodation solutions, Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and related legislation, and self-employment and entrepreneurship options for people with disabilities.

Bridge My Return. Bridge My Return (BMR) gives transitioning service members, veterans and their spouses and caregivers real-time matches to jobs with military-ready employers, real-world coaching advice and a professional resume—all at no cost. BMR founder Bob Hogan said he created the company to attack the persistent problem of veteran underemployment—or veterans working in typically lower-paying jobs that don't match their advanced skillets and abilities. It takes about 20-30 minutes to complete a BMR profile; after that, the BMR software works for the veteran 24/7. As new jobs are added, the veteran is matched to new opportunities. Plus, the BMR application automatically creates a personalized resume you can immediately share with BMR employer partners or other employers you approach separately.

Veterans' Employment Services (VES). A division of the Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity, VES helps veterans and their families secure meaningful careers in Michigan. The concept of veterans helping veterans is a trademark of the VES team and one of the keys to its success. Veterans face many challenges when transitioning out of the military – finding meaningful employment should not be one of them.

  • Veterans in need of employment assistance should contact the nearest Michigan Works! One-Stop Service Center by calling 800-285-WORKS (9675) or visiting MichiganWorks.org.
  • More information about Veterans' Employment Services is available at Michigan.gov/VES.
  • Register today and start your job search at Pure Michigan Talent Connect at MiTalent.org.

Veterans to get extended postpartum care services

Maternity - VA

Veterans will soon have vastly expanded access to maternity care coordinators who provide a range of supportive services, according to the Department of Veterans Affairs.

The announcement is part of the Biden administration's efforts to tackle the country's maternal health crisis and seeks to help a population that may be at heightened risk of pregnancy complications.

Under the extended service, which went into effect Sunday, maternity care coordinators will be available to veterans a full year after birth, up from eight weeks currently.

Veterans can receive coordinator services as soon as they have a positive pregnancy test, according to a VA spokesperson. Coordinators touch base with veterans every three months throughout the pregnancy. The new expansion extends the scheduled contacts for another twelve months after delivery.

Read the full story in Axios.

Air Force to review thousands of discharges for traumatic brain injury, PTSD

Thousands of Air Force veterans who received less-than-honorable discharges due to post-traumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injury or other mental health conditions, as well as sexual assault or harassment, will have those separations automatically reviewed due to a new legal settlement.

The service consented to the reviews as part of a settlement in a nationwide class-action lawsuit -- Johnson v. Kendall -- brought by two airmen in 2021. The lawsuit took aim at the Air Force Discharge Review Board, or AFDRB, for wrongly discharging troops over misconduct linked to a military trauma, such as a combat- or training-related head injury or sexual assault.

Read the full story in Military.com.

MVAA Director Adam Hollier: Homeless veterans served our country. Now we should serve them

Adam Hollier

From the rural communities of the Upper Peninsula to the urban corridors of Metro Detroit, thousands of Michigan's military veterans are living in shelters, on the streets or crashing on friend's couches and it is completely unacceptable.

These veterans put their lives on the line for our country and now they're homeless.

It's a longstanding and widespread problem. Today, according to the best available data, there are 21 homeless veterans living in Dickinson County in the western U.P., 173 homeless veterans in southern Michigan's Calhoun County and 600 homeless veterans in Wayne County, home of Detroit.
In all, 2,443 Michigan veterans—many with families—are homeless, according to the Homeless Management Information System. But this figure represents just those homeless veterans who have sought out services. As just about every expert and veteran advocate knows, that number is much higher based on the fact that so many of our homeless veterans go uncounted.

While some progress has been made over the past few years, veteran homelessness remains a persistent and complex challenge spanning the demographic groups. Veterans of color continue to be over-represented in the homeless population. We've seen a huge increase in the number of older veterans experiencing homelessness. Women veterans are twice as likely to become homeless as non-veteran women.

Under the Whitmer administration, the state of Michigan invested $2 million this year to combat the problem through the Michigan Veteran Homelessness Prevention Grant. The Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency (MVAA) will distribute these funds, in the form of $150,000 grants, to entities around the state that serve homeless veterans and their families. In particular, the MVAA is looking for innovative approaches to supporting homeless veterans from all backgrounds and eras.

To fully attack the problem of veteran homelessness, we must address the underlying factors, starting with an overall lack of affordable and safe housing. Substance abuse, mental health challenges and financial insecurity also play a role. Importantly, too many of our veterans experience social isolation after rejoining civilian life and fail to get connected to a meaningful support network.

But help is out there—throughout the state of Michigan. At the MVAA, our mission is to connect Michigan veterans to the local, state and national resources that can help them thrive in all facets of life and avoid the crises that can lead to homelessness and suicide. Whether it's connecting a veteran to a Veteran Service Officer to help them file a VA disability claim, lining them up with a peer mentor through our Buddy to Buddy program or linking them to emergency assistance or employment, education and health care benefits, we're here for all veterans and their families.

As we prepare to recognize World Homeless Day on Oct. 10 and Homeless Awareness Month in Michigan in November, it's important to remember that those veterans who are sleeping in their cars and asking for help on street corners once put their lives on the line to serve our country. We should do everything within our power to help them thrive as civilians. How can you help? 

  • Veterans. Call us at 1-800-MICH-VET or visit Michigan.gov/MVAA for assistance. 
  • Organizations and businesses: Join our Michigan Veteran Connector program to better reach and serve your customers and clients who are veterans.
  • All of us: Volunteer time at food banks, community kitchens, homeless shelters or VA medical facilities. We can also volunteer at Veterans Stand Down events, which provide supplies and other services to homeless veterans. Or we can donate to the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans.

Veterans Crisis Line: Dial 988 then Press 1


The Veterans Crisis Line is staffed by caring, qualified crisis responders who are there to help. Many of these responders are veterans themselves.

Online Resources



Call 1-800-MICH-VET


Visit Michigan.gov/MVAA

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This email was sent to jmc001@ameritech.net using GovDelivery Communications Cloud on behalf of: Michigan Department of Military & Veterans Affairs · 3411 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. · Lansing, MI 48906