State Rep. Ben Frederick co-sponsored legislation introduced recently that will provide financial incentive to encourage Michigan counties to establish and maintain veteran service offices. Frederick, who represents a portion of Saginaw and Shiawassee counties in the Michigan House, said Saginaw County is one of 11 counties in Michigan that does not currently have a department dedicated to veteran support. Offices in many other communities are understaffed.
“We owe it to our veterans to make sure they have access to all of the benefits they sacrifice so much to earn,” said Frederick, of Owosso. “This legislation will provide additional funding to the Shiawassee County Veterans Affairs and Services office, while also encouraging the establishment of a county-administered Veterans Service Office in Saginaw County. Well-trained people should be on hand in each county to make sure military families understand the benefits they are eligible to receive and help them fill out the necessary paperwork.”
Under the bill, each county with a veteran service office that satisfies the requirements outlined in the bill will be eligible to receive a $25,000 grant, plus additional funding based on the number of veterans in the county. In order to receive funds a county must:
• Maintain a county veteran service office.
• Have an accredited veterans benefit claims employee on staff.
• Provide at least 20 hours of service each month assisting veterans.
• Maintain the previous year’s county funding level for the veteran service office.
• Report to the Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency and Legislature regarding the number of claims completed throughout the year.
“I look forward to helping to move this important measure through the legislative process,” Frederick said.House Bill 5536 was referred to the House Military and Veterans Affairs Committee.