MVAA expands emergency grants to peacetime veterans 65 and older

For the first time in its 75-year history, the Michigan Veterans Trust Fund (MVTF) will provide emergency assistance to eligible peacetime-era veterans 65 years and older under a new pilot program.

Similar to its Emergency Grant Program for wartime-era veterans, the MVTF's 65+ Peacetime Program allows veterans who served in a peacetime era, have at least 180 days of service and were discharged under honorable conditions to apply for emergency assistance.

The assistance helps veterans overcome unforeseen situations causing a temporary or short-term financial emergency or hardship that a grant will resolve and for which the applicant can demonstrate the ability to meet future expenses. Covered expenses under the 65+ Program include utility bills, home repairs and rent and mortgage assistance.

"Our veterans selflessly serve our country and we have to work together to ensure they have the resources they need to succeed," said Governor Gretchen Whitmer. "I am grateful to the MVAA and MVTF for providing emergency assistance to more veterans under their new 65+ Peacetime Program. The program will provide grants to eligible veterans facing a financial emergency or unexpected hardship. It will help veterans cover utility bills, invest in home repairs, and pay their rent or mortgage."

The MVTF was created by the state Legislature in 1946 to help wartime-era veterans with a $50 million corpus that has since grown to more than $72 million. The MVTF Board of Trustees have expanded Trust Fund services to veterans in recent years to offer financial counseling, food cards, career and entrepreneurial assistance and, now, emergency assistance for peacetime veterans.

"We now have the ability through a larger corpus to look more comprehensively at the entire veteran community and can address other areas of need in addition to the emergency grant program for wartime era veterans," said MTVF Director Lindell Holm. "The 65+ Peacetime Program demonstrates the Board's intent to allocate resources to meet the needs of Michigan veterans in a targeted and timely manner and will be evaluated at the end of fiscal year 2022 for possible renewal."

In fiscal 2021, which ended Sept. 30, the MVTF approved nearly $1.3 million in emergency assistance to 1,124 wartime-era veterans and their families in Michigan. The average grant was more than $3,000 - up from $1,900 the previous year.

The MVTF saw a reduction in applications for emergency assistance last year due to a decrease in the population of wartime-era veterans and the availability of other emergency assistance during the pandemic, Holm said. The MVTF, which falls under the auspices of the Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency (MVAA), has allocated $200,000 for the 65+ Peacetime Program this fiscal year.

MVAA Director Zaneta Adams said the new program builds on the Trust Fund's success of helping more than 630,000 veterans and dependents throughout its 75-year history.

"Expanding these services to peacetime-era veterans fits into our strategic plan of supporting the vitality of Michigan's veteran community," Adams said. "The 65+ Peacetime Program will fill a gap that's out there at a critical time when veterans need our support the most."

Veterans interested in applying for the 65+ Peacetime Program should contact the MVTF county committee serving the county they reside in or fill out and submit the emergency assistance form available on the MVAA's website. Veterans can call 1-800-MICH-VET to be connected to their county veteran representative.