Vietnam veteran, former state senator joins Michigan Department of Health and Human Services to ensure veterans receive benefits they deserve

Contact: Christina Fecher, media relations coordinator 517-373-7394

 June 29, 2011

Vietnam Veteran and former State Senator Bill Hardiman will bring his knowledge and passion for veteran rights to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, Director Maura D. Corrigan announced today.

Corrigan appointed the longtime Kentwood legislator and mayor as the director for inter-agency collaboration and reengineering, effective June 27. In this role, Hardiman will collaborate with various state agencies and develop plans to improve outcomes for and outreach to Michigan citizens.

A primary focus will be ensuring that Michigan veterans receive the benefits they deserve by working with the Michigan Department of Military and Veterans Affairs and veterans organizations statewide, as well as talking to veterans to determine what benefits they are - and should - be drawing from the federal government.

"We believe there are significant opportunities for our veterans to utilize benefits that have previously been untapped," Corrigan said. "We are pleased to have Mr. Hardiman on board to help our veterans receive the assistance they are entitled to for protecting our freedoms and safety."

Michigan has the 11th largest veteran population in the nation at approximately 700,000 veterans, according to the state's Department of Military and Veterans Affairs.

However, Michigan is ranked last among states, territories and districts as a recipient of veterans' affairs funding on a per capita basis. In FY 2010, Michigan only received $2.2 billion from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, resulting in $3,409 per capita. The national average is $4,894.11 per capita.

"As the Veterans Affairs Directorate works to increase veterans' access to VA benefits, we congratulate Bill Hardiman on his new role and look forward to working with him in our efforts to serve Michigan veterans," said Jason Allen, senior deputy director for Veterans Affairs.

Hardiman said his new role is a "true passion," relating to the time he served in Vietnam from 1967 to 1968 as a medic attached to an artillery unit with the United States Army. He was also part of the Americal Division; his final rank was Specialist V.

"I am very honored to be working alongside Justice Corrigan, who swore me in eight years ago when I became a Michigan senator. This is a reunion of sorts," he said.

In addition to serving as a senator, representing cities in the 29th District like Grand Rapids and Kentwood, Hardiman served for 10 years as the mayor of Kentwood. He was also a member of various boards, including the Grand Rapids Housing Center, Michigan Municipal League, United Way of Kent County, and the Gerald R. Ford Council of the Boy Scouts of America.
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