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Michigan Veterans Trust Fund’s new 65+ Peacetime Program helps Army veteran get new furnace
June 07, 2022
Army veteran Lloyd Clayton has always believed in “others before self.” The 82-year-old Flint resident grew up poor in Montgomery, Alabama during the height of the civil rights movement; while in high school he recalls listening to Martin Luther King Jr.’s selfless sermons at church. His sister, he says, used to work with Rosa Parks.
And when his family struggled with financial hardship, he was ready to drop out of high school and join the Army to do his part.
“Growing up in the South wasn’t easy,” Clayton says. “My family struggled to put food on the table, so I wanted to join the Army to help. I wanted to drop out of school, but my recruiter instead suggested I join the Reserves so I could stay in school but still make some money.”
Clayton joined the Army Reserves in 1957, eventually going on active duty in 1959 once he graduated high school. An infantryman, he would serve in Panama before transitioning out of the Army in 1961.
After moving quite a few times, Clayton and his wife eventually settled in Flint. Their home needed a ton of work, most importantly a new furnace, but after running into financial hardship, Clayton couldn’t afford to make the repairs. He went to the Genesee County Department of Veterans Affairs to get help.
“I didn’t know what to do,” Clayton says. “The house was so cold last year. We were using space heaters and our electric bill was around $600 a month. A veteran service officer told me that the folks at the Michigan Veterans Trust Fund in Lansing could be of assistance.”
Clayton was eligible for assistance because of the Michigan Veterans Trust Fund’s 65+ Peacetime Program, a new addition starting in December 2021. 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.
Through the MVTF, Clayton was able to get a new furnace worth more than $5,000 installed at no charge.
“The way the trust fund handled my case was amazing,” Clayton says. “They were so helpful and caring. They knew my situation and told me they would do whatever they could to help.”
Clayton says he and his wife finally feel comfortable in their home.
“We are so blessed,” Clayton says. “My grandfather always told me that if you take care of your family, God will bless you. The Michigan Veterans Trust Fund made that possible. I’m proud of my service, because without it, I wouldn’t have gotten help.”
Clayton hopes his story resonates with other veterans who served during peacetime who may not have been eligible for emergency assistance in the past.
“All you have to do is ask,” Clayton says. “It aggravates me that there are soldiers out there who aren’t getting the help they need because they’re too afraid to ask. If you’re a veteran, you don’t have to struggle. I know from personal experience, there’s people out there that want to help. All you have to do is ask.”
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. The new program builds on the Trust Fund's success of helping more than 630,000 veterans and dependents throughout its 75-year history.
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.