MVAA receives pair of 2016 Abraham Lincoln Pillars of Excellence Awards

Contact: Lauren DeVol, MVAA 517-284-5236
Agency: Military and Veterans Affairs

March 22, 2016

Agency celebrates third anniversary with national accolades for VCAT, 800-MICH-VET

LANSING, Mich. - The Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency recently received national accolades for its efforts to connect veterans with the benefits they’ve earned – an accomplishment the agency is celebrating on its third anniversary.

In February, MVAA received two 2016 Abraham Lincoln Pillars of Excellence Awards from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Five states were honored with seven awards.

MVAA was one of two state departments to receive multiple recognition for its Michigan Veterans Community Action Team program – a community-based, locally led program that has brought 1,187 organizations together to better serve state veterans – and its Michigan Veteran Resource Service Center – a one-stop program connecting veterans to federal benefits, state programs and local services through a toll-free phone number, 800-MICH-VET (800-642-4838).

Michigan is the first in the nation to implement programs of this kind statewide, encouraging federal, state and local service providers to work together to care for veterans and their families. 

“MVAA first started serving the state’s 660,000 veterans on March 20, 2013, the 10th anniversary of the beginning of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Since then, MVAA has worked to make Michigan a more veteran-friendly state, and these awards are recognition of those efforts," said James Robert Redford, MVAA interim director. “Everything that we have accomplished in the past three years is due to the hard work and dedication of our employees as well as our partners in the Michigan Veterans Coalition, county veterans service offices, Legislature and veterans and their advocates throughout the state. Together, we can best serve those who served.” 

The Abraham Lincoln Pillars of Excellence Awards recognize outstanding state programs that support or exemplify the VA’s mission to fulfill the promise of Abraham Lincoln to “care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow and his orphan.”
Michigan Veterans Community Action Teams

  • VCATs exist in each of Michigan’s 10 Prosperity Regions, allowing veterans in each area to receive quick, collaborative solutions to their unique needs. Since the launch of the program in August 2013, the VCAT program has grown to 1,187 organizations, covering the entire state with the ability to reach each of Michigan’s 660,000 veterans.
  • The vast majority of VCAT service providers have reported an increase in the number of veterans served as well as stronger alliances with other program participants – resulting in more veterans and their families connecting with more resources.
  • The VCAT program was created by Ann Arbor-based Altarum Institute, which works with MVAA and community partners to discern veteran needs and available resources.

Michigan Veteran Resource Service Center

  • No matter what questions they have or barriers they face, MVAA is available to veterans and their families 24/7 through the MVRSC and 800-MICH-VET (800-642-4838). The service center is the first statewide program in the nation to offer 24/7/365 assistance to veterans and their families by partnering with Michigan 2-1-1, VCATs and accredited benefits counselors.
  • Launched in September 2014, the MVRSC connected with more than 65,100 veterans and family members in its first year of operation – almost 10 percent of the state’s veteran population. Michigan 2-1-1 agents assisted more than 1,200 veterans who called on nights or weekends, ensuring no call goes unanswered.
  • Veterans who call 800-MICH-VET have access to thousands of federal benefits, state programs and local services as well as the chance to discuss their questions with call center agents who are veterans themselves or related to a veteran.
  • During each call, veterans are asked if they are up to date on their federal VA claims. If they are not, the MVRSC refers them to a local benefits counselor, so they don’t have to navigate the claims process alone.