State Rep. Curt VanderWall joined the Michigan House of Representatives last week in overwhelmingly approving legislation encouraging Michigan counties to establish and maintain veteran service offices through a new grant program.
Under the legislation VanderWall is helping sponsor, each county with a veteran service office that satisfies pre-approved requirements will receive $25,000, plus an additional amount based on the number of veterans in the county. To continue receiving the grant, an established county veteran service office must meet benchmarks for staff performance and reporting while maintaining the previous year’s funding level.
“Military veterans in Benzie, Leelanau and Mason counties often have to drive far distances to meet with an accredited Veteran Service Officer (VSO) in Traverse City, Manistee, Hart or Baldwin for veteran services,” said VanderWall of Ludington. “This grant program will help the counties without county veteran services departments become more independent and provide their own veteran services. I am happy to vote in support of this legislation as it will improve access for more military heroes residing in rural areas across the state.”
Depending on the county, a VSO may only be available for a few hours each month at a single location. Benzie, Mason, and Leelanau counties are among the 11 Michigan counties currently without county-administered veteran services departments.
House Bill 5536 now advances to the Senate for further consideration.