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July Director’s Update

In this July Director’s Update, I truly hope everyone has been staying safe through all the COVID-19 protocols.  Our office opened back up full-time on June 15th.  Our staff, like so many others, experienced a lack of personal interactions with clients.  Each of us thrives by helping other veterans and their dependents at the Department of Veterans Affairs.

The COVID-19 pandemic has hit those already struggling from mental health issues with a deeper level of anxiety, stress, or depression.  While most veterans feel more comfortable around other veterans as we have a sense of what they have been through, the COVID-19 isolations have kept people at home where they are forced to deal with their demons alone.  I hope that if you are struggling you will utilize some of the resources shared within this issue.

Here are some updates pertaining to our current situation.

Benefit Update

COVID-ER Financial Assistance

In response to the high number of people out of work and suffering financial distress, the Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency (MVAA) created the County Veteran Service Fund Emergency Relief (CVSF-ER) grant.  This grant is to help pay for home repairs, medical expenses, buy groceries and personal care items, and other needs determined emergent.  The MVAA also partnered with Meijer to provide grocery vouchers to veterans.  Vouchers of $50 or $100 are used to purchase food, paper products, laundry, and household cleaning products, health and beauty care items, and pet foods.  

Check with your local Veterans Affairs office to see how you can receive CVSF-ER grant money to assist you in meeting your needs.   

Mental Health Counseling 

Those struggling with mental health and the high costs of counseling, there might be an alternative if you served in any combat zone and received a military campaign ribbon (Vietnam, Southwest Asia, OEF, OIF, etc.) then both you and your family are eligible for Vet Center services. 

VA Vet Centers offer a wide range of psychosocial services to eligible Veterans, Servicemembers, and their families in the effort to make a successful transition from military to civilian life.  They include:

  • Individual and group counseling for Veterans, Servicemembers, and their families
  • Family counseling for military-related issues
  • Bereavement counseling for families who experience an active duty death
  • Military sexual trauma counseling and referral
  • Outreach and education including PDHRA, community events, etc.
  • Substance abuse assessment and referral
  • Employment assessment & referral
  • VBA benefits explanation and referral
  • Screening & referral for medical issues including TBI, depression, etc

The Colonel Dema T. Craw VA Clinic located in Traverse City at 701 US Hwy 31 South is one of many clinics across the state that offers Mental Health services including medication management, individual and group counseling such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). There is no requirement to be a combat veteran, but you must be enrolled in VA healthcare to utilize services at any VA Clinics.

For more information on these or other benefits updates, visit or call your local Department of Veterans Affairs office.

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