May 26, 2014 at 1:00 am


How Michigan helps vets

All should be done to ease transition of America's defenders

Michigan has many programs to connect its veterans with resources and opportunities. (David Coates / The Detroit News)

Michigan is doing commendable work in establishing programs and services for discharged military personnel to help them adjust to civilian life. Leading the way is Secretary of State Ruth Johnson, who successfully pushed for a law allowing a special driver’s license designation for veterans.

Available to those honorably discharged, the license features the word “Veteran” in bold red on the front.

“We are indebted to these courageous men and women and this will help them get the benefits they have earned and deserve,” Johnson explained.

Johnson also supported legislation that makes it easier for veterans to obtain a commercial driver’s license and she has ensured that her offices offer information about veterans services and how to access them.

Pending legislation would allow the sale of a special fund-raising license plate that would raise money to benefit veterans and their families.

The plate would initially cost $35, in addition to regular registration fees, with $25 of the money from each plate going to benefit veterans.

The Legislature has provided $11.5 million over the past two years to create a Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency. The agency assists veterans in obtaining benefits and services.

Measures include: a law that allows free Recreation Passports for disabled veterans, former POWs, and Medal of Honor recipients, exemption of the principal residences of disabled veterans, and their surviving spouses, from property taxes, and an expedited licensing process for veterans who pursue a career as an EMT, firefighter, boiler operator, mechanical contractor, or residential home builder. These laws also waive initial license or application fees for a veteran.

All of Michigan’s 15 public universities have adopted policies to provide in-state tuition to veterans.

Pending legislation includes waiving initial license or application fees for more than 20 occupations, including architect, professional engineer and public accountant; waiving initial fees for private security guard licenses; and waiving initial fees for dental assistant applicants who served as dental specialists in the military.

While veterans are being failed so miserably by federal medical facilities, the state of Michigan has stepped up to treat them with the respect they deserve.