Veterans Affairs monthly update from Director Jim Alton

Web editor’s note: Each month, VA Director Jim Alton writes a column about issues affecting veterans. Following is his August 2016 column.

Pheasant hunting opportunity for vets

VFW Post 8530 in Gettysburg, S.D. is sponsoring a pheasant hunt for five disabled veterans, Purple Heart recipients and /or terminally ill patients. Services are free or at cost. The VFW Military Assistance Program covers airfare, as well as hunting licenses. The dates are Nov 6-12. To qualify, a veteran must have enough upper body strength to wield a shotgun. Confinement to a wheelchair is not an obstacle. Amputees are encouraged to apply for the trip.

Contact our office if you would like to apply we would love to help you “get that bird!” (231) 348-1780

VA education and training

VA can help you cover the cost of furthering your education and skills through benefits to pay for tuition, housing, training, and other expenses related to your education. VA’s education and training benefits are provided through these key programs:

VA education benefits may be used toward traditional degrees, non-college degrees, on-the-job training, apprenticeships and more. VA also provides assistance to help veterans transition from military service to civilian employment. Service-disabled Veterans may be eligible for one-on-one support, counseling, and training to boost skills and build careers. Call our office and we can help you navigate the benefits.

Passing of a hero

Staff Sergeant David J. Thatcher passed away on June 22, 2016, near his home in Missoula, Montana. Today, of the 80 Doolittle Raiders, only one still survives – Doolittle’s co-pilot, Lt. Col. Richard Cole.

Replacing lost military medals and decorations

The military recognizes that military medals are often a cherished part of family history and makes replacement medals, decorations, and awards available to veterans or their next of kin if the veteran is no longer living or able to make the request on his or her own behalf.

Requests for replacement medals, decorations, and awards should be made to the veteran’s respective branch of service, with the exception of Army and Air Force (including Army Air Corps) veterans; requests should be sent to the National Personnel Records Center (NPRC) in St. Louis where the records will be reviewed and verified. The NPRC will then forward the requests to the respective service where the medal, decoration, or award will be issued.

Who can request replacement medals or decorations? The military won’t issue replacement medals or awards to just anyone. You typically need to be the veteran or next of kin to receive a replacement medal or decoration. Contact our office and we can assist you.
Honors Flights

Many of you have heard of the “Honors Flight” that takes a WWII vet to Washington D.C. to the War Memorial. This program is now taking Korean War veterans and in a few cases Vietnam vets as well. If you know of someone who may be interested, please have them contact us and we can assist with the paperwork to get them on “the list.” The flight is free for the veteran, but he or she must have an escort who must pay their own way.

A parting thought …

Dale Carnegie said “you can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you!”

Semper Fi

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



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Emmet County, Michigan
200 Division Street, Petoskey MI 49770
(231) 348-1702 | Contact Us