Mich. veterans agency launches 24-hour help call line
Lansing – — Michigan on Wednesday launched a help line military veterans can call at any time to get help about their government benefits and services.
The Veteran Resource Service Center is a partnership between the state Veterans Affairs Agency and the United Way’s 211 phone system. Veterans who want help navigating government agencies can call (800) MICH-VET during business hours and 211 after hours and on the weekends.
“We’re going to get you to the right place, the right way and we’re going to get you those services you deserve,” Gov. Rick Snyder said while announcing the initiative at the Veterans Affairs Agency in Lansing.
The governor created the veterans affairs office last year because Michigan ranked last among the states in federal money spent per person on services provided through the U.S. Veterans Administration — medical treatment, pensions, schooling, disability compensation and employment help.
The phone lines are designed to complement a website.
Suzanne Thelen, communications and veteran engagement director for the Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency, said the call center was “soft” launched in July and has received more than 2,000 calls. About 30 veterans on average have been helped per day.
Thirty-eight percent of calls involved Michigan’s driver’s license designation for veterans and legal assistance. Housing questions accounted for 16 percent; health care another 16 percent; quality of life 13 percent; education 11 percent; and employment 6 percent.
Thelen said Michigan’s new center is the first statewide resource center in the U.S. to fully integrate with 211 and provide referrals to service members and veterans.
The goal of the new program is to aggregate all veteran services across state government and provide “no wrong door” access to veteran resources, said Jeff Barnes, director of the Veterans Affairs Agency.