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New Voice for Michigan Veterans

The new Michigan Veterans Institute aims to improve how the state treats veterans. (Pixabay)
The new Michigan Veterans Institute aims to improve how the state treats veterans. (Pixabay)
March 3, 2016

LANSING, Mich. – There soon will be a new voice for military veterans in Michigan.

State Sen. David Knezek, a Democrat from Dearborn Heights, and Republican State Rep. Tom Barrett of Potterville on Wednesday announced the launch of the Michigan Veterans Institute. It is geared toward improving how the state treats its veterans.

Knezek says after the trials and tribulations of tours overseas, the transition home can be difficult for veterans.

"After the handshakes and the parades are over you're left really alone trying to find and trying to navigate your way through life back in the United States,” he explains. “It's a difficult process, it's a disheartening process and we want try to make that easier for our veterans."

Knezek says the Michigan Veterans Institute will focus on increasing access to service dogs for veterans managing post traumatic stress disorder, reducing veteran homelessness and improving access to education, health care and job opportunities.

There are more than 648,000 veterans who reside in Michigan.

As veterans of the Iraq war, Knezek explains that he and Barrett felt obligated to step up to the plate for the state’s veterans. He adds that he and Barrett have their own perspective, but want to hear from others.

"We are going to be going across the state of Michigan holding town halls at our city halls, American Legions, VFWs – you name it – to make sure that we are talking to each and every veteran we can to understand what their experiences as well,” he states.

Knezek explains that every penny brought into the initiative will go directly into increasing access, benefits and services for veterans. And they are committed to working with anyone who wants to improve the way veterans are treated in Michigan.

"Whether the VA or the Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency or anybody else across the state,” he stresses. “It's not a question of a Democratic answer or a Republican answer it's a question of right or wrong. And so if we've got good folks that want to do the right thing we're happy to work with them moving forward."

Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - MI