There are roughly 685,000 military veterans living in Michigan, which makes the state the 11th most populous in the nation with men and women who have served their country.
Recently, the Michigan Legislature allocated $200,000 to be divided this year among the state’s 83 counties to assist veterans in need.
The grants were made available through a competitive process and as an incentive for counties to either increase the number of service officers in their departments or to create a countywide veterans affairs department.
Counties that didn’t have such a department but were willing to create one could apply for a $20,000 grant. Counties that already had established such an office could apply for a $15,000 grant.
Kent County Department of Veterans’ Affairs Director Carrie Jo Roy applied for and received a $15,000 grant for her office. She will use those funds to increase the hours her three part-time service officers work. The three will now work 30 hours a week for the rest of the year, up from their usual 20-hour workweek.
“With this I will be able to do more outreach, as they will be in the office,” she said.
County commissioners officially accepted the grant last week and allocated it to KCDVA.
There are about 35,000 military veterans residing in the county, the fourth largest population of its type in the state. KCDVA has a budget of $295,000 this year, or the equivalent of $8 for each veteran.
Commissioner Shana Shroll pointed out that Roy is the department’s only full-time employee and she would like that to change in the near future. “I’d like to see another full-time position added,” she said.
State lawmakers allocated the $200,000 from the Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency.