LANSING, Mich. – The Whitmer-Gilchrist administration is counting down the last 10 days of 2021 by celebrating Michigan’s progress on 10 fundamental kitchen-table issues. Today we celebrate progress Michigan has made on supporting veterans and service members.
“The men and women of the Michigan National Guard and those from Michigan in active-duty and other reserve components of our military serve our state and nation with honor and distinction. We must do everything we can to support them and help them thrive,” said Governor Gretchen Whitmer. “I’ve been focused on growing and establishing programs to expand opportunity, deliver resources and make changes at the state-level to recognize the sacrifices made by our veterans, service members and their families. Together, we can ensure they have access to great healthcare, have pathways to higher education or skills training and the opportunity to find a good-paying job.”
“The Michigan Department of Military and Veterans Affairs is guided by one fundamental promise: that those who are serving or have honorably served our state and nation are ‘members for life’,” said U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Paul D. Rogers, Director and Adjutant General of the Michigan Department of Military and Veterans Affairs. “In all that we do, we are driven by this underlying commitment, and I could not be prouder of what we have accomplished this year in support of Governor Whitmer’s priority to help Michigan’s military service members and veterans thrive.”
- Signed four bipartisan bills to help veterans and their families advance in their careers by removing barriers that prevent service members, veterans and dependents from entering a licensed profession.
- Conducted over 2,300 coronavirus response missions – administered by 3,150 service members from Joint Task Force Michigan – in all 83 counties.
- Supported the Michigan Youth Challenge Academy, a program to educate, train and mentor at-risk youth at no cost to participants, giving young people the skills to become productive and responsible citizens. In 2021, 200+ cadets graduated from the program.
- Provided $6.5 million in funding for the Michigan National Guard Tuition Assistance Program (MINGSTAP) that provides up to $14,400 for tuition at in-state institutions for associate and baccalaureate degrees and up to $6,000 for certificate and master’s degree programs annually to members of the MING. Over 1,400 service members utilized this benefit in the past year.
- Proposed an over $100 million investment (split between state and federal governments) to upgrade and make improvements to ensure Michigan’s female soldiers have equitable facilities at the state’s Army National Guard facilities. Design work has begun, and construction can commence as soon as the legislature appropriates the funds.
- The Michigan Veteran Resource Service Center (1-800-MICHVET) handled 26,205 cases for veterans and their dependents in fiscal year 2021 (FY21), an average of 2,183 cases per month. That is the most cases they have ever handled in a single year — by a wide margin — and represents a 58% increase in cases from FY20.
- The Michigan Veterans Trust Fund approved 426 applications for $1.3 million in emergency grant assistance. That is a 26% increase in emergency aid from the year prior and an average of more than $3,000 per grant recipient.
- Sign legislation, as soon as the Legislature passes it, to allow for the transferability of MINGSTAP benefits to a service member’s spouse.
- Ensure that veterans, service members and their families are properly connected to local community groups, including veteran service organizations (VSOs), that can help connect veterans to the benefits they have earned and provide employment, healthcare and other services and resources.
- Provide funding to construct one or more new State Veteran Homes to ensure 95% of Michigan’s veterans have access to focused, high-quality, long-term care services within 75 miles of their home.
- Continue to invest in and expand the capabilities of the National All-Domain Warfighting Center (NADWC) to better position Michigan as a key destination for military training and innovation.
- Continue to attract and serve as a destination for research and development innovators to test emerging technologies for Department of Defense programs.
“The Governor has worked collaboratively to both honor and recognize the sacrifices of our service members, Veterans, and their families. Through a broad range of new initiatives and programs, more opportunities than ever before are being afforded to those who have served, or currently serve, our communities, state, and nation. With the support of these programs, Michigan will continue to be a leader in services and improved quality of life for our most honored citizens,” said Jason Wallner, OIF/OEF Army Veteran, Upper Peninsula
“The American Legion applauds Governor Whitmer for her advocacy for Michigan’s veterans, and we are proud to have her support of The American Legion, VFW, VVA and DAV’s officers across the state,” said Richard Dubay Sr., State Commander of The American Legion.
“Governor Whitmer and her team have done an amazing job in supporting Michigan’s veterans, and Michigan’s Veteran Service Organizations,” said Kevin Conklin, State Commander of the Veterans of Foreign Wars. “The funding increase the Governor supported for the VFW, American Legion, DAV and VVA’s service officers are changing people’s lives. We are excited that this funding increase will enable our organizations to scale the amazing work we do every day.”