Wednesday, January 3, 2024

Michigan Veterans News & Resources for Jan. 3, 2024

Michigan Veterans News

New federal charter gives Native American veterans more paths to advocacy

Native American veteran

The 2024 defense policy bill signed into law by President Biden on Dec. 22 includes the first federal charter for a Veteran Service Organization representing Native Americans.

A charter for the nonprofit National American Indian Veterans, or NAIV, is included in the 2024 National Defense Authorization Act. The creation of the charter marks the culmination of a nearly 20-year effort by Native American veteran advocates.  

The charter will allow the organization to testify about veterans' issues before Congress, Joey Strickland, a retired colonel of Choctaw descent who works as the group's chief of staff, told Military Times. The charter also provides a pathway for NAIV to have some of its members accredited by the VA, permitting them to log into VA systems and help veterans and their families with benefits claims — assistance that is currently lacking on tribal lands.

Together We Served celebrates veterans by offering a free plaque of their military service

Military plaques

Since its launch 20 years ago, (TWS)—the leading online community of U.S. veterans—has provided its 2.3 million members the special opportunity to not only reconnect with the people they served with, but to preserve a detailed record of their military service, including unlimited photographs. This is so their families and future generations will know what they did serving our country.

In keeping with TWS's commitment to honoring the service of every veteran, hot off the press is TWS's brand new Military Service Plaque, according to VA News. The plaque features key service information, period-accurate graphics and a wide choice of era-specific backgrounds in a distinctive layout. The plaque is available, free of charge, to every veteran who served in the U.S. Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force or Coast Guard.

Visit the TWS website to claim yours.

Once registered, you simply add your service photo, medals and awards, hashmarks and any proficiency badges earned on your plaque builder page. These then appear "as worn" on uniform. When complete, your full-sized plaque is automatically sent to you as a hi-resolution image file ready to print. If you have any questions or need assistance, TWS's veteran-manned help desk is always available, or email for a quick response.

How many veterans will be in Congress after the election?

Veterans in Congress story

Congress hasn't had at least 100 members of the House and Senate with military backgrounds since 2017. But the veterans caucus in the legislature right now is close enough to challenge that mark in the 2024 elections, Military Times is reporting.

The number of veterans in Congress has steadily declined since the 1970s, a shift which mostly reflects the change to the all-volunteer force and the dwindling number of Americans who enlist annually.

Veteran advocates have worried that decline has also taken away valuable insight for lawmakers as they craft national security policy, veterans support plans and defense budget proposals.

Michigan veterans serving in Congress include Republicans John James (Army) and Jack Bergman (Marine Corps) in the House and Democrat Gary Peters (Navy) in the Senate.

Starting a franchise as a veteran

Franchise owner

You may be reconsidering your professional future as the new year dawns. For veterans who don't want to work for someone else, there's an option worth considering: Starting a franchise.

Owning a business through franchising is a perfect hybrid between working for an organization and starting your own business from scratch.

From the training veterans received in the military to the free franchise coaching available to them, Navy veteran Chris Hale offers six reasons why veterans should continue starting a franchise at VA News.

Veterans interested in starting a business can visit to get started.

From VA disability to job resources, the MVAA's got your back

MVAA logo

The MVAA exists to connect veterans and their families to the benefits and resources they earned for their service. These benefits include federal, state and local assistance. To list just a few:

We can also help you locate your DD-214 discharge papers and get you connected to an accredited Veteran Service Officer to help you file VA claims free of charge.

To see the full array of benefits and resources you may be eligible for, visit or call us at 1-800-MICH-VET (1-800-642-4838).

Michigan Vietnam veteran honored by his niece as she's promoted to lieutenant colonel

Danny Walburn and his niece, Ashley Sykes

Danny Walburn pins lieutenant colonel insignia on his niece, Ashley Sykes. Below, Walburn holds his Vietnam Veteran Recognition Certificate.

On one special day last month, Ashley Dykes was promoted to lieutenant colonel in the Michigan National Guard while her uncle, Danny Walburn, was honored for his service in the Vietnam War.

Dykes and Walburn share a special bond through their service. Dykes joined the Army in 2003, then the Guard in 2007. Walburn joined the Army in 1969 and served in Vietnam as a tank commander.

On Dec. 21, Dykes was pinned as a lieutenant colonel by her uncle at his home in Gladwin. Normally the promotion would be held at Ft. Custer in Battle Creek, but because Walburn is unable to travel, the Guard allowed the ceremony to be held at his home.

After pinning his niece, Walburn was surprised with a Michigan Vietnam Veteran Recognition Certificate from the Michigan Department of Military and Veterans Affairs, signed by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and Adjutant General Paul D. Rogers.


Danny Walburn

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



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