Jim Alton's January 2015 Veterans Affairs column: Local VA services, new vets-and-pets program
Each month, Jim Alton, Director of Emmet County Veterans Affairs, writes a column aimed at helping veterans and their families. His January 2015 column is below.
To read past columns, click here.
A new year in the Emmet County VA office: Summary of important services
With the start of a new year, this office looks forward to continuing to fight for all the benefits that our veterans are due. This also includes benefits for their families. I’d like to provide you with a quick summary of what is available through this office: Veterans’ and survivors’ benefits; help for homelessness; emergency funding for those who need assistance for utilities due to unforeseen circumstance; loaner program of mobile chairs, walkers, etc.; funeral assistance and benefits; ID cards that can help with discounts and other offers; counseling services; care packages to those serving out of country; and anything else that can help a veteran or their family in need.
If you are aware of a veteran or family of a veteran in distress, please call our office at (231) 348-1780. All calls are confidential. If you have a friend or family member in the service or going into the service, please call our office so that we may support them and let them know that they have an advocate here in Emmet County. Rick and I would like to thank the community for all the support they give to this office and our veterans! Semper Fi
Project started with the Little Traverse Bay Humane SocietyThis office is working with our local Humane Society in starting a program with veterans working with shelter dogs. The veterans will be trained in how to teach the shelter dogs behavioral modifications before the pets are adopted. LTBHS does not euthanize their animals. The program will consist of four weeks training at five hours a week. We hope to raise enough money to pay the veterans a small wage for their time and mileage. This program will start with two volunteers and hopefully blossom into a program that will give veterans some help in many new ways – and as a bonus, shelter dogs will be better able to find a new and happy home. If you are interested in donating to this program, or would like more information, please contact Jessica Evans at the Humane Society, (231) 347-2396.
Attention Camp Lejeune Veterans
Veterans and their families who lived at Camp Lejeune for 30 days or more between Aug. 1, 1953 and Dec. 31, 1987 may be eligible for VA health benefits. A Dec. 12, 2014, law changed the eligibility dates from Jan. 1, 1957 to Aug. 1, 1953. This includes families, and especially if it involved pregnancy. Please contact our office if you were at this base during these dates; you may be eligible for reimbursement of out of pocket medical expenses for 15 conditions and other possible benefits.
A word on charities
An ongoing controversy continues over which charities make the best use of donated dollars toward veterans’ causes. My advice is to go to www.charitywatch.org. It will give you ratings on ALL charities, via the American Institute of Philanthropy.
Fort Hood shooting and Purple Heart questions
The legislation that funds the Defense Department in 2015, known as the NDAA or National Defense Authorization Act, includes new language that requires the Pentagon to reconsider whether the victims of the Fort Hood massacre qualify for the Purple Heart – one of the department’s highest honors. Combat on our shores on others is combat – they deserve the award and the benefits that go with it!
Join a veteran’s organization in Emmet County
Our local Veterans organizations continue to do important work in our community, please consider joining or rejoining one of them. We have the American Legion in Petoskey and Harbor Springs, the VFW on West Conway Road, the Marine Corps League in Petoskey, and AMVETS in Harbor Springs. If you are not a member of one of these organizations, please consider getting involved. Feel free to call our office for locations and meeting times.
Jim Alton is the Director of the Veterans Affairs Department within Emmet County. Alton served in the United States Marine Corps (1955-62) and is retired from the Michigan State Police. Reach him or his assistant, Rick Wiertalla, at (231) 348-1780 or firstname.lastname@example.org