Since 1927 the State of Michigan has provided funds to Veterans’ Service Organizations (“VSOs”) in order that Michigan veterans would have advocacy in obtaining and retaining veterans benefits. However, budget concerns have prompted the governor to curtail the support that veterans have enjoyed for decades.
VSOs provide extensive support to numerous veterans’ organizations around the state, including but not limited to: the VFW, American Legion, AmVets, etc. They provide free assistance to veterans in need, including help in filing applications for the aid & attendance pension, health and pharmacy benefits, burial and memorial benefits, survivors’ benefits, and numerous others. They work collaboratively with the Department of Veterans affairs to help veterans and their dependents gets the benefits they deserve. In the past, 75 to 90 percent of all claims originated with Veterans’ Service Organizations.
However, on May 5th, 2009 Governor Granholm issued Executive Order 2009-22. The order mandated that funding for VSOs be cut by about twenty-five percent. As a result, many VSOs had to downsize their staff and operations. The cuts included one million dollars that had previously gone to eleven different veterans service organizations including: American Legion ($226,500); Disabled American Veterans ($187,200); Marine Corps League ($86,000); American Veterans of WWII, Korea and Vietnam ($118,700); Veterans of Foreign Wars ($226,400) Michigan Paralyzed Veterans of America ($42,500) Purple Heart ($40,400); Polish Legion of American Veterans ($10,500); Jewish Veterans of America ($10,500); Vietnam Veterans of America ($40,800); Catholic War Veterans ($10,500).
In light of the recent budget cuts, the VSOs can no longer be available to the extent that they were in the past. However, veterans can still call their local Veterans’ Service Organizations and see to what extent help can be provided. Moreover, there are various independent groups, including elder law attorneys, who will give help with veterans benefit applications at no charge to the veteran. Finally, veterans and their families can still get help through the federal system of the Veterans’ Administration in Detroit.
While attaining help for disabled veterans is becoming harder and more complicated, expert guidance and assistance is still available. Heritage Elder Law remains committed to serving those who fought for our country in its times of deepest need.