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Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency celebrates 10 years by reinforcing core mission of serving veterans
January 17, 2023
LANSING, Mich. – The Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency (MVAA) celebrates its 10th anniversary on Wednesday by recognizing the gains it has made in supporting veteran families and reinforcing its commitment to serve as Michigan’s central coordinating point for veteran resources and services.
The MVAA was signed into existence as a state agency on Jan. 18, 2013, with the explicit mission of connecting Michigan’s more than half-million veterans to the federal and state benefits and resources they earned for their service. Michigan has the 11th largest veteran population in the nation, but many former service members are not receiving U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) health care, disability compensation, education benefits or other resources.
In its first decade, the MVAA has significantly increased engagement with Michigan veterans and their families. The agency’s award-winning 1-800-MICH-VET call center has handled more than 140,000 veterans’ cases over 10 years, and last fiscal year handled a record 2,370 cases per month.
The MVAA has also established hundreds of partnerships with veteran-friendly organizations, higher education institutions and businesses; created numerous programs and outreach campaigns designed to help veterans thrive; distributed tens of millions of dollars in grant funding to county veterans’ affairs offices and veteran service organizations; and championed veteran-centric causes and legislation.
Gov. Whitmer appointed Adam Hollier director of the MVAA starting Jan. 1, 2023. Hollier, a former state senator and a captain in the Army Reserve, replaces Zaneta Adams and is the fourth director in agency history. He said the MVAA will continue focusing on breaking down the barriers veterans face in employment, education, health care and other quality of life areas.
“For the past decade MVAA has had one mission: to support veterans and their families. Today, we reaffirm our commitment to making Michigan the best state for veterans by addressing veteran suicide, homelessness and ensuring every service member has a community supporting them.” Hollier said. “Our service members earned their health care, education, housing and disability benefits. Our team stands ready to serve our veterans, National Guard and Reserve members just as they have served our state and nation.”
The MVAA started operations on March 20, 2013, two months after it officially became a state agency under the Michigan Department of Military and Veterans Affairs (DMVA). Initially operating out of the Joint Forces Headquarters (JFHQ) on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard in Lansing, the MVAA moved after a few months to the Phoenix Building in downtown Lansing. It has since returned to the JFHQ complex.
Vietnam veteran Bob Walker is one of the many veterans helped by the MVAA. Walker’s home in Beaverton lacked running water and his furnace was failing, so he turned to the Michigan Veterans Trust Fund (MVTF), which operates under the MVAA. Through an emergency grant from the MVTF, Walker’s furnace was repaired and a new water well was installed on his property at no cost to him.
“It was just a great feeling of relief knowing that finally I had somebody on my side who was going to fight for me,” Walker said of the MVAA.
Among MVAA’s accomplishments over the past decade:
• Calls to the 1-800-MICH-VET call center, known as the Michigan Veteran Resource Service Center (MVRSC), have increased more than 103% since 2013, reaching an annual record 28,444 cases in fiscal 2022. Available 24 hours a day, seven days a week in conjunction with Michigan 211, the call center is the MVAA’s “front door” for helping veterans on everything from finding their DD-214 discharge papers to getting them connected to an accredited Veteran Service Officer to file VA claims.
• The Michigan Veterans Trust Fund has distributed more than $125 million in emergency aid to more than 650,000 eligible veterans and their dependents since it was created in 1946.
• MVAA has distributed tens of millions of dollars in public and private grants to county-level veteran offices and veteran service organizations to support veterans and their families. Grant-funded veterans’ services range from food assistance to dental services to legal help
• Between MVAA-employed Veteran Service Officers (VSOs) and VSOs the agency collaborates with around the state, tens of thousands of applications for federal veterans’ benefits have been filed, resulting in hundreds of millions of dollars in recoveries for veterans and their families.
• MVAA has drastically increased outreach to veterans throughout the state to help them overcome the various barriers they face. These outreach efforts include addressing the factors that can lead veteran suicide head-on and establishing a regional model of veteran services that are tailored to Michigan’s geographical areas – an initiative known as Community Outreach and Regional Engagement (CORE).
To learn more about the MVAA, visit michigan.gov/MVAA.