LANSING, Mich. – More than 22,000 veterans in seven counties will find it easier to file a federal benefits claim with an accredited county veterans service officer, thanks to County Incentive Grants awarded by the Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency (MVAA).
This is MVAA’s second round of one-time grants, and funds awarded include:
· $10,000 for Clare County Veterans Services to increase the accredited county veterans counselor to a full-time position.
· $20,000 for Crawford County to establish a county department of veterans affairs and hire a full-time accredited county veterans counselor.
· $10,000 for Dickinson County Office of Veterans’ Affairs to hire an additional part-time accredited county veterans counselor.
· $20,000 for the Lapeer County Department of Veterans Affairs to hire a full-time accredited county veterans counselor and upgrade existing equipment.
· $20,000 for Montcalm County to establish a county department of veterans affairs and hire a full-time accredited county veterans counselor.
· $20,000 for Osceola County to establish a county department of veterans affairs and hire a full-time accredited county veterans counselor.
· $15,000 for the Schoolcraft County of Veterans Administration to increase the accredited county veterans counselor to a full-time position and purchase office technology.
“Many Michigan veterans simply aren’t accessing the federal benefits they’ve earned, either because of past experiences with the VA or because they aren’t aware of changes to benefits eligibility,” MVAA Director Jeff Barnes. “Whether you’re a WWII-era veteran, just returning from overseas or served anywhere in between, MVAA and our county partners can help you navigate the federal claims process and get the pension, disability and other benefits you earned while in uniform.”
Created under Public Act 252 of 2014, the County Incentive Grant program is administered by MVAA and provides $250,000 in grant funding to Michigan counties looking to fund new county departments of veterans affairs, hire additional accredited county veteran counselors or upgrade or invest in new technology. To date in fiscal year 2015, $210,000 has been distributed to a total of 14 county veterans service offices, covering 16 counties.
“Through the County Incentive Grant program, we are partnering with counties throughout Michigan to better serve the state’s veterans,” said Rob Price, MVAA acting director for targeted outreach. “There are veterans in every county in Michigan, and we want to make it as convenient as possible for each of them to apply for their federal benefits. It can be a complicated process, but county veterans counselors are trained to help veterans through it.”
Counties interested in applying for the County Incentive Grant program are encouraged to email Price at email@example.com or visit the members area of the Michigan Association of County Veterans Counselors website.
Veterans can find their nearest benefits counselor by visiting MichiganVeterans.com or calling 800-MICH-VET (800-642-4838).